After another inmate death, Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt assigned a “command level sworn officer” to monitor inmate wellness at the county’s troubled jail, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. “Increasingly, the inmate population that is brought into our care has severe health and drug abuse issues,” Schmidt said. “For many, their health has been compromised due to years of poor nutrition, lack of proper medical care, and abuse of alcohol and drugs.” Schmidt said he created the new position to provide an “added layer of protection” for more fragile inmates.
Seven inmates have died at the jail since the middle of 2016. The most recent was Carrie Baukus, 46, on Dec. 19. Schmidt has asked the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department to review the incident and the Oct. 27 death of Jose Torres, 35. An inquest jury that heard testimony about the dehydration death of Terrill Thomas at the jail in 2016 found probable cause in May that seven sheriff’s employees violated criminal statutes regarding Thomas’ detention. District Attorney John Chisholm has not yet announced a decision on whether to charge any of the seven or others. Thomas’ family has sued in federal court over his death. In September, a federal appeals court reinstated civil rights lawsuits over jail deaths from 2007 and 2010 that Milwaukee judges had dismissed in favor of the county.