The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office plans to hire dozens of new corrections officers at its jail, where the deaths of four people have led to questions about whether there’s enough staff to supervise inmates, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The new recruits will replenish the ranks of corrections officers in the jail, which has been understaffed for years due to high turnover and an inability to find quality replacements. The office is budgeted for 250 corrections officers, but employed about 180 before the start of a hiring spree late last year.
About 25 corrections officers have been on the job since December, with another 30 new hires scheduled to start a training academy in February. A third training class is expected to start in the spring. The jail’s short-staffing has come under scrutiny after four people died there between April and November. They include Terrill Thomas, 38, who died of dehydration in his cell, and a newborn who died after her mother gave birth in her cell without any jail staff noticing. A court-appointed monitor raised the possibility that a shortage of corrections officers and poor oversight of inmates contributed to the deaths. No investigating agency has announced any conclusions about whether the actions or inaction of corrections officers played a role in the deaths. Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. has been dismissive of criticism of his leadership, chalking it up to political retribution for his support of President Donald Trump.