(Madison, WI) Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) is pleased with the passage of bills to protect and compensate employees of the Department of Corrections.

The Probation and Parole Agent Protection Act, AB 90/SB 100, will increase protections for agents and their families. Currently, it is a felony to cause physical harm to an agent, but the bill will expand that penalty to both threats and causing harm to agents and their families. Agents, who often live in the same community as those they supervise, deserve to live in peace without fear of violence to themselves or their loved ones.

Wisconsin prisons are in crisis due to a lack of security staff. Corrections Officer and Sergeants are routinely forced to work 16-hour shifts day after day. That’s not safe for the inmates or for the staff. You just can’t run any business, certainly not a prison system, with ¼ of the positions vacant. Two maximum security prisons, Columbia and Waupun, have over 48% of the security jobs vacant.

The only way to attract qualified security staff in this economy is to pay a competitive wage. The Department of Corrections pay add-on will provide an additional $2 this year and $5 next year. Let me be clear. AB 828/SB 855 isn’t enough. We will need a significant permanent raise in the next budget.

These state employees deserve our protection. I don’t want to see violence to our Agents or in our prisons. The governor must sign these bills or take responsibility for the results, even possible prison riots.

As chair of the Assembly Corrections Committee and as the Representative for the district with the most DOC facilities in my district, I will continue to stand up for the public safety personnel who stand in harm’s way to protect us all.

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