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A Behind the Scenes Look at Being a JailerSubmitted: 04/10/2013
Story By Lyndsey Stemm


RHINELANDER - Last month's inmate attack on a corrections officer in Marathon County raised concerns about safety in our county jails. But it also made us curious about the responsibility of looking after inmates.

Jailers don't do their jobs out in the open like patrol officers. The average person might not know what the job entails unless they know a jailer, or spend a lot of time in jail.

Imagine having a job where nobody but your coworkers are happy to see you.

"Nobody really wants to have contact with you. You have inmates who aren't happy to be here, clearly," says Sandra Ladu-Ives, Acting Oneida County Jail Administrator.

Learning not to take it personally is one of the first lessons for a corrections officer.

"There can be a lot of days where morale gets low because of the activities of inmates," says Ladu-Ives.

These Oneida County jailers say keeping inmates in line is just the beginning of their responsibilities. An officer with the county was recently awarded "Jailer of the Year" for stopping three suicides in as many months. They say you can't accomplish that without building a rapport with inmates.

"We have to have a rapport. You can still remain professional and not get too personal, but at the same time have empathy, have some compassion, and be alert to what's going on," says Daniel Huettl, an Oneida County Corrections Officer.

"There's a lot of people coming in here who are at the lowest point of their life. You have to really be keen to their needs," says Ladu-Ives.

Watching out for an inmate's well-being and treating them with dignity, while keeping vigilant every minute for your own safety, can be a fine line to walk. It's something Marathon County was reminded of last month. One of their officers is still in a coma from an attack.

"You can be standing there talking to somebody one minute and the next minute they hear something that you said or maybe that they didn't want to hear. And that can make someone flip a switch," says Ladu-Ives.

"I teach my officers, my trainees, not to be hyper-vigilant. We don't want them jumping around like a cat on a hot tin roof, but we want them to be relaxed but alert," says Huettl.

It's a big task. With a capacity of 209 inmates, there could be as few as six officers on duty. But balancing watching out for, and keeping safe from inmates is something these officers believe in.

"It's a profession. And it's something that you really have to believe in and really have to have a heart for," says Ladu-Ives.

"I think I can speak for everybody here: we try to send people back out into the community in better condition than we found them," says Huettl.



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 IN OTHER NEWS

WAUSAU - During a national push to prescribe fewer painkillers, a new Wisconsin proposal appeared that it would let chiropractors prescribe prescription drugsâ€"including painkillers.

After speaking with one of the bill's authors, that notion is not at all true. 

John Murray, the executive director of the Wisconsin Chiropractic Association, which supports the bill, said it was never the bill's intention to include narcotics, or any drugs not related to neuro-muscular skeletal healing. The bill is in its early stages, having had a co-sponsor hearing on Tuesday, and future drafts of the bill will not have that broad language. 

"It is the position of the WCA that going forward that was never the intention and that's not the intention going forward to have opioids and highly addictive schedules to be part of this," Murray said. 

What the bill is meant for, he said, is to allow chiropractorsâ€"with 60 credit hours of additional education and hours of clinical trainingâ€"to be able to prescribe non-narcotic pain medication, such as muscle relaxants or steroids. This they could do instead of referring their patients out to a medical doctor for such prescriptions, as all chiropractors do now. He said this would make it more convenient for the patient and better that they see the same doctor for a medication instead of two. 

"It's not that we think referring out to other providers is a bad thing," Murray said. "But there are situations in which a patient comes in and has something that a chiropractor with proper training could treat in the short term with some pharmaceutical intervention."

Not all chiropractors agree with this bill despite its clarifications. 

Dr. Scott Bautch, D.C., of Bautch Chiropractic in Wausau, wants to stay true to being "the non-drug option" to health care. 

He would rather continue referring his patients out to medical doctors.  He presented on behalf of the Chiropractic Society of Wisconsin, which does not support the bill, at the bill's hearing in Madison on Tuesday. 

"I'm going to counsel people on what they eat, I'm going to counsel people on how they move, I'm going to counsel people on what they think," Bautch said. "But if we need to have help with something your body can't heal, I'll refer you out. In my 33 years plus of practice, I've not had a problem. And if I've had to send a patient out because the pain was so unretractable, it's not been a difficult situation at all. If I call them that day, I've had patients that we call, and they get them in in an hour."

Murray says it's up to each chiropractor in the state to decide how they want to practice.

"We have great respect for chiropractors who want to work that way," Murray said. "But there are chiropractors in the state who want to have those extra clinical tools and practice that way. It's about freedom of practice."

The bill still has a few legislative steps before, and if, it becomes law.


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AMHERST - The small town of Amherst recently broke ground on a project to replace its aging dam.

The dam was built on the Tomorrow River decades ago to power the local feed mill.

But now the Wisconsin DNR believes the structure does not meet it's 500-year flood criteria, so it gave the town a choice.

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EAGLE RIVER - A ranch in Eagle River will be giving back this summer while serving delicious food.

Kula Ranch is partnering with different charities, raising money through farm-to-table breakfasts.

Each Sunday morning breakfast will support a different charity. The meals will either be homemade with food from the farm or locally sourced.

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PRENTICE/OGEMA - Prentice High School senior Aubrey Edinger likes making art with all different kinds of materials. She makes pottery, oil paintings, acrylic paintings, and drawings, among other works.

But it was a sculpture with polymer clay that earned her all-conference recognition in a recent Northwoods art show. Her "Fight Scene" piece was selected as one of the best in the Marawood Conference.

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EAGLE RIVER - Inside a Northland Pines fitness room, the laughter comes a little easier than the exercises.

"By God, we have a good time," Denise Simon said with a laugh.

Twice weekly, more than a dozen women sweat, strain, and snicker their way through the Strong Women fitness program at the high school.  It's a lively atmosphere that Denise Simon says keeps her coming back.

"This is just as important physically and socially equally," Simon said.  "And then to be dropped into this group of women, there's where the gift is."

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MADISON - Wisconsin voters will likely need to show an ID during the August primary.

A federal judge is hearing challenges to Wisconsin's voter identification law.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson says the rules for the August primary election will be the same as they were for the April presidential primary.

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MADISON - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he has obtained data that proves university tenure means jobs for life.

Vos released an email Thursday that UW System State Relations Director Jeff Schoenfeldt sent to his office this week in response to a request for historical tenure data. Schoenfeldt said that six tenured faculty have been dismissed for cause system-wide between 1996 and 2015.

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