Walker proposes youth-prison reform; would close Lincoln Hills

Annette Crawford
January 13, 2018

According to preliminary estimates from the Department of Corrections, construction costs for the new facilities would total about $80 million.

Wanggaard said he's not sure if five new facilities is the right number and the state may need to add more.

"As Wisconsin's governor, I will work side-by-side with the folks of this state on every decision, big or small".

Models from other states, such as Missouri which has been cited in 7 Investigates' past coverage and recommended by experts during legal hearing against the facility, were the basis for his directive.

-Would "align" the state's juvenile corrections and treatment systems "with nationally recognized best practices".

Require the Department of Health Services (DHS) to expand treatment services at the Mendota Treatment Center, serving more male juveniles as early as fall 2018, and creating a facility there to treat female juveniles with mental health needs.

The announcement comes as Walker is up for re-election to a third term in November.

"I was actually ecstatic", said Sharlen Moore with Youth Justice Milwaukee.

State Superintendent Tony Evers, who is running against Walker for governor and has made the troubles at Lincoln Hills central to his argument to unseat Walker, said Walker's plan doesn't wash away the years of problems at the facility.

"How many kids have been abused during the five years Walker failed to act?" The state Department of Justice sent dozens of agents into the prison in December 2016 after an inmate got his foot slammed in a door during a scuffle with guards and lost two toes.

"It was a planning as to get where we are today with Lincoln Hills/Copper Lakes as far as for the treatment and educational emphasis and providing treatment staff, and the next step in that development and ongoing improvement will be to match those type of improvements to smaller, community-based, organizational sites found within the community of need", Litscher said.

"Part of the reason why this is workable to make this change is right now we have a question of do we build a new facility to deal with the adult population", said Gov. The facility has room for about 600 inmates but now holds fewer than 200.

"Obviously, something has to be done at Lincoln Hills", said Bob Lee, the chairman of the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors.

The problems at Lincoln Hills could be straightened by getting it under proper management and reworking of regulations that protect "staff and students alike", Crevier said. "This is just an idea that's five years down the road".

"At least we know what it takes for Gov".

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said they both support the plan. A federal judge six months ago ordered the prisons to dramatically reduce the use of pepper spray, shackles and solitary confinement on inmates. "This is a huge step forward for Wisconsin".

"We are relieved that the state is moving away from a model that just doesn't work - large youth prisons that violate the Constitution and are risky to youth", she said.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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