Two weeks ago, I reported about a corrections officer, Julie Christensen, who worked at the Marathon County Jail. She was viciously assaulted by an inmate who was reportedly not receiving proper care for his mental health issues.
Christensen has been in intensive care ever since the attack.
The kicker was that Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger knew for more than six years that the conditions at the jail were dangerous. Reports done by independent experts clearly pointed out that the jail was overcrowded and understaffed. To make matters even worse, it was also revealed that the county had the money to at least partially address the safety concerns, but Karger sat on it because austerity!
Days later, it was revealed that the jail intercom system was not working and had not been working for years. And as the staffing issue, it turns out that Karger had the money budgeted for it's replacement for three years, but again sat on that money because austerity!
To "address" the dangerous conditions at the jail which Karger created through his austerity agenda, the county announced they were going to create a citizens panel. When the panel was announced, it raised red flags all over. The panel was clearly designed to help cover up the role that Karger and his austerity played in this tragic, but completely avoidable, incident.
The cover up continued this week, with Karger and friends sinking to even lower depths. They are putting on great airs of pretending to finally listen to the correction officers. The hypocrisy in this is sickening when one considers that the guards have been asking for changes for years, only to have Karger to deny them time and time again. The reason for his callousness was, of course, austerity!
Even more egregious, Karger forced the jail administrator, Bob Dickman, to resign, because he suddenly "lost faith" in his ability to do the job. It is obvious that Karger is going to use Dickman as the scapegoat for Karger's own willful failure.
The assailant has been charged with aggravated battery with the intent to cause bodily harm and battery by a prisoner, both felonies. However, due to his ill thought out agenda of austerity, Karger should be held just as liable for his role in this.
He intentionally withheld funds which could have decreased the risk of such an incident occurring. He had the wherewithal to increase staffing and properly maintain vital safety equipment, but chose not to. That isn't being austere, that is being intentionally and grossly neglectful.
And if the Marathon County Board doesn't take action to address Karger's malfeasance, they are also as liable.
The real kicker is that even if people had supported Karger for saving them a few bucks in the short term, they are going to pay much, much more in the long term. Not only will the taxpayers be on the hook for her medical care and any long term disability, but you know there will be one or two lawsuits filed regarding this incident. One for the obvious failure to address the known safety concerns in an appropriate and timely manner. The other would be if they truly were neglecting the inmate's mental health issues.
If you wish to help Correction Officer Julie Christensen, there has been a trust fund established in her name at Integrity First Bank, 101 Grand Avenue, Wausau, WI 54403. Their phone number is (715) 845-0900.