Some jail programs suspended
High inmate count leads to the decision
Friday, March 08, 2013 6:00 PM
MARINETTE - Inmates have been stacking up like cordwood at the Marinette County Jail. Friday's population was 132, but the average during the month of February was 142 a day.
Those escalated numbers are forcing changes inside the walls, explained Ellen Hanneman, inmate education and programs corrections officer. She made her report Friday to members of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee.
"Due to the large jail population, some officers have expressed concern about all the inmate movement to and from programs," she said, "so we're suspending some for now. Unfortunately that's for tutoring, all the Job Center workshops, Stinking Thinking and a few others."
Capacity is about 162 inmates but that's only if every single bed was being used, including those for medical observations and the intake cells for those coming into the facility under the influence.
The jail offers a number of programs to help inmates, including securing a general education diploma, tutoring, financial literacy employment assistance and more. The programs are considered a privilege and can be taken away. Inmates who are in maximum security are not eligible to take part.
"We do have a lot of great programs," said Hanneman. "We are very fortunate to have most of our programs facilitated by volunteers and we're very grateful they're willing to donate their time to come to the jail on a steady basis to do them."
Hanneman said the programs are so popular there's a backlog of inmates waiting to get into every program offered for both men and women. The jail GED program had nine inmates complete the course in the past month, one with high honors.
A GED diploma is just one way inmates can get help in their search for a job. The Job Center workshops, which are funded through the Workforce Development Board, enable inmates who are near the end of their sentence to update their resume and work on interview skills and resume writing. The program also helps inmates address gaps in their employment history and explain what they've done to rehabilitate themselves.
One of the most popular programs has an unusual title, it's called "Stinking Thinking." It's designed to change the way inmates think and overcome their criminal behavior.
"The 'Stinking Thinking' program earns sentence credit," said Hanneman. "If they finish the six-week course they can earn a day off their sentence."
The suspension of the programs is expected to be temporary but no date has been given for reinstatement.