Walker to close troubled Lincoln Hills prison, open regional teenage prisons

Ruben Hill
January 13, 2018

"By moving from one facility to several facilities across the state, and placing a focus on mental health and trauma-informed care, we believe this plan will improve long-term outcomes for both juveniles and our staff working at these facilities", Walker said in a statement. Construction costs for the new facilities would total roughly $80 million, according to preliminary estimates from the DOC. Lawmakers would need to approve the plan. The exact location of those new prisons would be determined later, but one would be in northern Wisconsin. Walker says one would be at Mendota, where there is already a mental health facility.

Scott Walker's plan to move juvenile inmates out of a facility under federal investigation wouldn't be implemented until after voters decide whether to re-elect him this fall. Walker on Thursday proposed converting the Lincoln Hills juvenile prison into an adult facility and opening five new regional juvenile prisons. He says nothing in Walker's plan ensures Wisconsin will have an effective approach.

Problems at the juvenile prisons have been developing for years. "I think this as an option, it's probably the best one".

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

The announcement comes as Walker is up for re-election to a third term in November. How many kids have (been) abused during the 5 years Walker failed to act. Evers said in a statement.

Madison reporter Patrick Marley talks about the events that went into the decision of closing the Lincoln Hills school for boys and creating regional centers. "We need responsible leaders who are more focused about solving problems and protecting lives than winning elections".

Gov. Walker said the only ones criticizing his plan are those running against him for governor, saying other democrats agree with his plan.

While officials believe the new system will help youth inmates rehabilitate better, former staff member Doug Curtis believes the state is just trying to make a profit.

"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.

"It's not really great influences there", said Termaine Roberson, spent time at Lincoln Hills. "This is just an idea that's five years down the road".

"We would love for that to be possible but we don't know that yet", Delagrave said.

Children at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake were routinely placed in solitary confinement, put in mechanical restraints, pepper-sprayed, and strip-searched.

The raid made public allegations that had been under investigation by state officials since early 2015.

Still, the move was hailed by the Juvenile Law Center and the American Civil Liberties Union, which sued the state over the treatment of inmates at the juvenile prisons. A federal judge six months ago ordered the prisons to dramatically reduce the use of pepper spray, shackles and solitary confinement on inmates.

Jessica Feierman, associate director of Juvenile Law Center, said Thursday that the plan "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 Click Lancashire

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