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

Lincoln Hills Youth Prison

While Thursday's announcement came as a shock to many lawmakers and stakeholders involved with the turmoil at Lincoln Hills, Gov.

Governor Scott Walker is planning an overhaul of the state's juvenile justice system. Construction costs for the new facilities would total roughly $80 million, according to preliminary estimates from the DOC.

The correctional facilities will each consist of 32 to 36 beds with staffing ratios consistent with requirements in the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) and will be sited regionally based on population density. While smaller than the hundreds that the facilities can now hold, Jeffery Roman says the plans would still house too many youth in one facility. Democrats also were quick to note that the plan, which is subject to approval by the Republican-controlled Legislature, wouldn't be implemented until after voters decide whether to re-elect the Republican governor this fall.

Transition the existing facility at LHS/CLS to a medium-security adult correctional facility with the cooperation of Lincoln County. In November, Department of Corrections officials indicated a desire to move the most aggressive inmates at the prison as a way to decrease the number of violent incidents at the facility.

-Would require the Department of Corrections to move juveniles at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools into five new "type one" juvenile correctional facilities and one new juvenile mental health facility.

DOC Secretary Jon Litscher, who took over the department in 2016 after almost all DOC officials who oversaw juvenile corrections quit or were fired, said in a statement the plan will "build on the many reforms" put in place since he took over.

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For years, Democrats have been calling for Gov.

"As Wisconsin's governor, I will work side-by-side with the folks of this state on every decision, big or small. We need responsible leaders who are more focused about solving problems and protecting lives than winning elections". Now he wants us to believe the same people who cause the Lincoln Hills mess are going to fix it.

"I'm hoping the facilities are built on redirection", said Roberson. The only answer 7 Investigates has received from his administration as to why it has taken until now to reform Lincoln Hills since he learned about the problems there six years ago is: "Discussions on reforming juvenile corrections between our office and interested parties have been ongoing for more than a year".

Tom Evenson, spokesman for Walker, said the plan is envisioned to be funded in the 2019-21 budget because "we want to work with all parties to implement it in a thoughtful and purposeful way".

"I don't know if we can wait that long because the situation is so dire", said state Rep. David Bowen, D-Milwaukee. "This is a huge step forward for Wisconsin".

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

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