Walker proposes youth-prison reform; would close Lincoln Hills

"It costs the county a lot more money to send a juvenile out to Lincoln Hills, and that was getting more and more expensive every year, so regionalizing (juvenile) facilities in counties may show some (financial) benefits", Cramer said.

Litscher said the regional facilities will accommodate the inmate population. 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.

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.

The Lincoln Hills facility, once converted, will provide 500-600 new medium security beds and alleviate some of the county jail beds that have been used in the meantime.

Lee said he spoke with staffers from the governor's office about the plan on Thursday before it was publicly announced.

The FBI launched a sweeping investigation in 2015 amid allegations of prisoner abuse, sexual assault, intimidation of witnesses and victims, strangulation and tampering with public records.

"Republicans and Democrats alike agree this is the way forward to reform juvenile corrections", Walker said.

As part of the overall plan, Walker announced the Department of Health Services will expand treatment for male juveniles located at the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center and create a new facility at that center for female juveniles.

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).

Many key details are yet to be determined, however, including how education programs would be provided to the inmates and whether converting the Irma campus into an adult facility would require the approval of Lincoln County officials.

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. "That's what we need, not a career politician who operates out of fear". How many kids have (been) abused during the 5 years Walker failed to act. "I don't think all of us have heard all of the issues Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake were having".

"We talked with lawmakers from both political parties", he said, "which is why you saw support from both parties yesterday".

"I'm hoping the facilities are built on redirection", said Roberson.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh, who along with a number of Democrats have called for such changes, said "it's not that we're not enthused for action, it's certainly the right thing to do, but it's a little rich coming from the governor who's been the main obstacle to any kind of corrections reform - not just juvenile corrections".

"At least we know what it takes for Gov". Walker has insisted for months that he is confident the Department of Corrections could handle the ongoing situation at Lincoln Hills, and has declined to visit staff there.



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