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Pay raise given to Douglas County jail staff

Pay increases range from $1.20 to $1.38 per hour as the county recruits to fill the ranks in the jail.

Government Center in Superior
Government Center, Superior, Wisconsin. (Jed Carlson / jcarlson@superiortelegram.com)
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

Sergeants and correctional officers in the Douglas County Jail will soon see a bump in their paychecks.

The Douglas County Board voted unanimously Thursday, Oct. 21, to advance jailers and sergeants two steps on the pay scale, starting in the next pay period. Pay increases range from $1.20 to $1.38 per hour.

The change puts the hourly range at $22.11 to $25.10 for jailers and $25.47 to $28.91 for jail sergeants, still less than the pay scale for jail staff in Carlton and St. Louis counties.

The goal of the wage increase is to retain staff as the jail faces a critical staffing shortage, county leaders said.

“As a Douglas County Jail supervisor, the hardest part of my job is seeing the defeat and frustration in the eyes of our employees,” said Stacey Minter, jail lieutenant. “They’re begging for help. They love their job, but they’re extremely overworked and exhausted, which is causing them to look elsewhere for employment.”

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PREVIOUSLY: Douglas County wrestles with jail staffing issues Many jail officers are working the equivalent of two full-time jobs covering shifts in the jail because of staffing shortages.

Jailers are working an average of 17 hours of overtime each pay period, with 24 people covering the shifts of 36.

Minter said the long hours are taking a toll on family relationships of jail staff, and their mental and physical health.

“I’m seeing more brown pants sitting on my couch on a weekly basis than I’ve ever seen before,” said Leslie Walker, a licensed psychotherapist and program coordinator in the Douglas County Jail. “A lot of times what’s difficult is I don’t have a solution for them.”

Walker encouraged the board to approve the pay increases so Douglas County can retain staff and fill the ranks in the jail.

“These people work hard, day in and day out,” Walker said.

Minter said the wage increases should be seen as one step to solving the problem.

“If we’re not able to come up with any plans or ideas to honor, celebrate and respect our employees, I fear we will continue to lose them at the rapid rate we currently are,” Minter said. “We won’t be able to sustain the staffing minimums that are required to keep Douglas County Jail operational. We’ve lost 26 jailers since January 2020.”

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In other business, the board:

  • Established rental rates for equipment used by the highway department to close roads for private projects.
  • Adopted a resolution in support of splitting Douglas County into three deer management units based on geography, soil types and the carrying capacity of the property.
  • Appointed Marquise Slay to serve the remainder of the term for the 3rd District of the county board, a seat vacated by Joel Certa-Warner.
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