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Walker calls for closure of Wisconsin's juvenile prison

13 January 2018

Walker said Thursday he plans instead to build six smaller youth facilities around the state for Wisconsin's most serious juvenile offenders, including one new mental health facility in Madison for girls.

If Walker wins re-election, he plans to include in the next state budget at least $80 million for the construction of five new juvenile prisons for up to three dozen inmates each.

Litscher said the Division of Juvenile Corrections will better be able to access the community resources, like mentor-ship programs, needed for juvenile rehabilitation once they are in the new facilities and areas of the state, and their transition back into society, he emphasized, will be easier. An additional mental health facility would be built on the campus of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Madison for female inmates.

But Walker's spokesman says that if the Legislature wants to speed up the timeline, the governor would support it.

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.

Before state and federal raids on the facility in December 2015, staff also regularly physically abused youth in the facility, even breaking their arms and legs in some cases, according to the ACLU.

Require the DOC to relocate juveniles at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools (LHS/CLS) to five new Type 1 juvenile correctional facilities and one new juvenile mental health facility.

Work with state and local officials to make sure that new detention centers are accessible but also safely distant from one another (Lincoln Hills and Copper Lakes were both in rural, northwest Wisconsin, while most of its detainees were from Milwaukee, in the state's southeast corner).

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Wanggaard said there will likely be discussions with officials in the counties in southeastern Wisconsin to determine the best places for the facilities.

"As governor, he has failed to visit a single correctional or juvenile facility in his entire tenure", said state Sen. "We need responsible leaders who are more focused about solving problems and protecting lives than winning elections". "We're certainly going to make it known that we would love to have one in Racine County".

"We'll see how those five work out", Wanggaard said.

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

Converting Lincoln Hills into an adult facility "is a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater", Crevier said.

Doug Curtis, who retired last year from Lincoln Hills after 20 years, said the plan does not address current safety issues at the facility.

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

Walker calls for closure of Wisconsin's juvenile prison