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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
What We're Working OnSubmitted: 12/08/2016

- Tonight on Newswatch 12:

A Winter Weather Advisory is in effect in the Northwoods as lake effect snow falls across the area making traveling hazardous. We'll take you live to Minocqua and give you the latest on snow totals and road conditions.

We'll introduce you to a local baker who has made a name for himself on social media by turning holiday treats into healthy snacks.

And the task of recounting presidential ballots ended in Lincoln and Vilas Counties. We'll show you how the process went in those counties.

We'll bring you the details on these stories and more tonight on Newswatch 12 - news from where you live.

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RHINELANDER - We often bring you stories of efforts to fight aquatic invasive species in the Northwoods during the summer. It's tempting to think that invasives don't pose a problem during the winter.

But conservation workers want you to rethink that idea. Species like Eurasian watermilfoil don't simply wither underwater in the winter.

"Eurasian watermilfoil is considered a perennial. However, I consider it an evergreen. A lot of people do," said Oneida County AIS Coordinator Stephanie Boismenue. "The reason being is it's winter-hardy. It's capable to live and grow underneath the ice."

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MADISON - A Republican congressman who derided Wisconsin's capital city as a communist haven is not backing down from his comments even as those in the city that prides itself as being "77 square miles surrounded by reality" take offense.

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LANSING, MI - Michigan lawmakers may re-enact a wolf-hunting law declared unconstitutional by the state appeals court.

The Republican-led Senate voted 27-10 along party lines Thursday to define wolves as a game species and to authorize the state to designate game. The bill goes to the House.

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ELCHO - If you pass through Elcho, you can't miss the hundreds of Christmas lights as you drive down Highway 45.

The Elcho Christmas staple is all thanks to a couple who spends weeks setting up the display, after they spend most of their time saving lives.

Carl Bloechl and Lissa Iwanoski are both EMTs. Carl is also a R.N. in Antigo.

For four years now, the couple sets up decorations at an office building off of Highway 45 in Elcho.

It takes a couple of weeks and they use their time in between shifts to get the job done.

"We just hope we don't get called. Sometimes we do get called and we just drop it all and leave it out here and go," said Bloechl.

The cold winter weather usually slows down the set up, but this year's warmer weather allowed the couple to enjoy the visitors earlier.

"It makes me feel good inside that they enjoy it too, because it is work," said Iwanowski.

The display will be on until the beginning of next year.

The lights stay on from around 4:00 p.m. through 11:00 p.m.



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SCHOFIELD - Choirs sang, bells rang, and teenagers like Claire Tomczik shed a few tears.

"It got me a little emotional," Tomczik said.

She and about 140 fellow D.C. Everest High School students went to a Pearl Harbor remembrance ceremony in the school auditorium Wednesday morning -- 75 years to the day after the attacks happened -- by choice.

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MADISON - The University of Wisconsin Law School has notified more than 1,200 former applicants that they could be at risk of identity theft because the school's database was hacked.

The university says Social Security numbers from 2005 to 2006 applicants were recently compromised. The Law School has taken down the affected server as a result and added a firewall to better protect that data.

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