PdC Correctional Institute reviews staffing, work programs

Error message

  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 133 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to get property 'settings' of non-object in _simpleads_adgroup_settings() (line 343 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Warning: array_merge(): Expected parameter 1 to be an array, bool given in _simpleads_render_ajax_template() (line 157 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/includes/
  • Notice: Trying to access array offset on value of type null in include() (line 24 of /home/pdccourier/www/www/sites/all/modules/simpleads/templates/simpleads_ajax_call.tpl.php).

By Steve Van Kooten


“It’s not Hollywood, so what you see on TV or movies should be taken with a really big grain of salt,” Captain Tom Driscoll said in reference to work at the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institute. “For the most part, we’re just maintaining order, that guys are just where they’re supposed to be and accounted for.”

On Nov. 3  at Prairie du Chien High School, the Prison Community Board held a quarterly meeting to provide updates on programming, staffing and improvements for the correctional facility. Among the institute’s staff in attendance were Driscoll; Becky Vance, Educational Director; Chad Klein, Deputy Warden; Pete Jaeger, Warden; Carrie Sutter, Management Services Director; and Genene Bunders, Warden’s Secretary.


Work Release Program

“It’s a benefit to the people in our care; it’s a benefit to those in the community; and it’s a benefit to the tax payers. It’s a benefit to the victims: it allows them [inmates] a way to pay the victim’s surcharges,” Jaeger said in regards to Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution’s work release program. 

Jaeger continued to list the benefits that impacted the community and the incarcerated individuals. Inmates in the program paid room and board, which alleviated tax payer dollars, and when the inmates were released, they were not shackled with a difficult financial burden as they attempted to reintegrate with society.

Driscoll said the Prairie program had 11 participants with jobs outside the institution, all with businesses in nearby communities. Eight of the individuals worked at Skyline in Lancaster and the other three at Bennett Hardwoods in Prairie du Chien. 

Jaeger noted prospective employers had to prove they had exercised effort to hire from the community before utilizing the program, and Driscoll noted that the numbers were fluid. On any given day they can be off by a small margin due to releases, transfers and other regular operations.

“I’ve done releases on guys, and a guy got a release check for $6.40. What do I realistically expect this guy to do?” Driscoll asked. “It he doesn’t have a support system to really lift him up, what are his options? Where as these work-release guys have thousands of dollars where [sic] they can get housing, transportation and get a cellphone to communicate. So it’s a really good thing in the big picture.” Driscoll added the participants in the program were thoroughly vetted: “Most of these are guys who made mistakes, are getting square with the House and they just want to do their time as peacefully as possible and get out.”

“We have a lot of individuals with drunk driving issues; their needs are substance abuse,” Jaeger added. According to Jaeger, all of the inmates at Prairie has sentences of less than five years, and the majority had sentences of three years or less.

“A lot of these jobs are highly coveted  because you can make money at them, so a lot of them [inmates] aren’t going to do anything,” Vance said.

Because of the value the program added, Driscoll said the community will see more inmates leaving the facility as the program builds: “As the work release program grows and we have more guys going out, I think people in the community will get used to seeing a van with a bunch of inmates going down the street.”


Job Center

Vance stated the Job Center has in-house vocational services for welding, masonry and maintenance skills training. Inmates have worked on both large and small projects, such as bat houses and retaining walls. Vance noted the vocational programs were sought after and had long wait lists.

“It’s kind of an avenue to get them [inmates]  the training they need before they’re released,” Jaeger said. 

Jaeger said inmates who obtained credentials in one of the programs had strong job possibilities after release and said there were masonry unions interested in inmates that had gone through their program.


Staffing Needs

Driscoll stated four new hires were scheduled to start on Nov. 7, which meant Prairie’s security rings were fully staffed. With 22 new hires since the end of the Summer, Driscoll stated they’d remedied a 20-25 percent vacancy from last Spring.

Jaeger said full-staffed teams reduced stress on the workers and allowed for staff to be present in the community more often. He also noted there were still openings for maintenance, a Finance Program Supervisor and two openings for Treatment Specialists.

A bill passed by the state government, which raised the minimum wage for jail security workers from $20.39/hour to $33/hour, helped boost academy numbers. While  the bill led an uptick in employee acquisition, Jaeger stated, “We still have a long ways to go.”

Prairie du Chien has a full security team, but many maximum security facilities in the state were still in need.

“We still probably have a handful of institutions throughout the state with 40 percent—some even 50 percent—vacancies on regular security rings,” Jaeger said. “Some of our institutions are even hurting in the education department. A lot of other places don’t have what Prairie has.”

Rate this article: 
Average: 2.3 (12 votes)