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Oneida County boosts pay for corrections officers amid statewide shortage

Oneida County Sheriff's Office Facebook

Oneida County recently boosted starting pay for corrections officers, with hopes is that higher pay will attract more workers to a field that’s struggling nationwide to recruit and retain them.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office is looking to hire at least eight corrections officers, a significant number for a team that typically operates with just 26 people.

Until recently, this wasn’t a problem.

“We were stable for quite some time,” Oneida County Sheriff Grady Hartman said. “But in the last two or three years, (the staffing shortage) has really grown exponentially.”

As corrections officers retired or advanced in their careers, backfilling those positions became increasingly difficult.

With eight vacancies, current staff work overtime and deputies sometimes step in to relieve them.

“It impacts the entire department because the jail comes first,” Hartman said. “We can’t take a day off from caring for those people, from feeding and booking in and booking out. So, the jail comes before the other stuff, which is also equally important.”

Oneida County is not alone in its need for corrections officers.

“I would say all 72 sheriffs are dealing with this,” Hartman said, referring to every county in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin Department of Corrections

State facilities are also down more than 1,200 corrections officers. That’s a vacancy rate of 40 percent.

The Oneida County Sheriff’s Office hopes a pay bump to $23.90 an hour will make the position more attractive to prospective employees.

“Sometimes our profession isn’t as appealing as others due to the night shifts and holidays and overtime,” Hartman said. “So, we’re trying to recruit in different ways. Getting that pay bumped up will certainly help.”

Interested corrections officers do not need prior experience, but they do need a high school diploma.

Hartman hopes some students at the high school will consider the career when they graduate in May.

Erin Gottsacker worked at WXPR as a Morning Edition host and reporter from December 2020 to January 2023. During her time at the station, Erin reported on the issues that matter most in the Northwoods.
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