Gaps remain in jails’ suicide prevention

Inmate at La Crosse County jail

Since 2003, 52 Wisconsin county jail inmates have taken their own lives. Department of Corrections jail inspector Nancy Thelen said that generally, Wisconsin’s 72 county-run jails are doing “a very good job with their suicide watches.”

But a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism review of the counties’ most recent jail inspection records found that at least one-third of them had, like Monroe County, been cited for problems with their suicide prevention efforts. Continue Reading

Ignored and underfunded, mental health care thin at county jails

Inmate at La Crosse County jail

Key findings:
• Wisconsin’s county-run jails are overloaded with people with mental illness — but services are largely inadequate.
• The state Department of Corrections is charged with oversight but does not evaluate the quality of jails’ mental health care.
• For nearly a quarter-century, the Legislature has required the DOC to collect and summarize annual reports on jails’ mental health care, but most jails have not provided the information, and the DOC acknowledges it has not been asking for them.
• One-third of Wisconsin’s jails have been cited for inadequate suicide prevention efforts. Continue Reading

Bowing to pressure, fireplace makers step up safety measures

To stave off regulation and lawsuits over severe burns to toddlers, manufacturers will provide protective screens as standard equipment with new gas fireplaces. The industry has revised its voluntary guidelines to call for the addition of mesh screens to be permanently attached to new fireplaces to prevent contact with the scorching glass fronts, which get hot enough to melt skin.

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Wisconsin frac sand sites double

An overview of the 400-acre plot of Preferred Sands mine in Blair, Wis., in Trempealeau County on June 20, 2012.

Frac sand fever has hit much of west-central Wisconsin, catching residents and local governments by surprise when demand for sand suddenly soared and permit applications began to pour in. The number of Wisconsin frac sand mining operations has more than doubled in the past year. Continue Reading