Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Gov. Walker explains Lincoln Hills plan, includes expanding mental health treatment

The announcement on January 4 followed an injunction secured by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and Juvenile Law Center - with pro-bono assistance from Quarles & Brady - through a class action civil rights lawsuit in federal court centered on the use of solitary confinement, pepper spray, shackling and strip searches of children.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections will close the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake state-run youth correctional facilities in Irma.

Walker's plan unveiled Wednesday would turn Lincoln Hills into an adult facility, while moving juvenile offenders to five smaller, regional facilities located around the state.

A federal judge previous year ordered the state to dramatically reduce its use of solitary confinement, shackles and pepper spray on inmates at the juvenile prison.

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.

While some Democrats hailed the proposal, others called it a tactic to smooth over hurdles in Walker's re-election bid for a third term.

"Republicans and Democrats alike agree this is the way forward to reform juvenile corrections, and I thank state and local elected officials and interested organizations for partnering with us to develop this plan", Walker said. He said he was told the proposal would preserve jobs in Lincoln County. Walker to do the right thing - a federal criminal investigation. Walker acting. I've got news for Gov.

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The goal of the plan is similar to the juvenile correctional model in Missouri - recently profiled by the Wisconsin State Journal - that is hailed by juvenile justice experts.

"We hope that they continue to listen to the community, engage the community who are saying that the smaller number is much better in that as they go through their planning process they realize that would be more effective". "The timing of this announcement is so transparent and does nothing to address the immediate safety concerns for staff and youth". The exact location of those new prisons would be determined later, but one would be in northern Wisconsin. Others are expected to be in southeastern Wisconsin, closer to Milwaukee and Madison where most of the young inmates come from.

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

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.

"While this is a step in the right direction, we will continue to pay attention to how young people are treated while they are moved from the current facilities", said Larry Dupuis, legal director of ACLU of Wisconsin, in a statement issued after today's decision.

The state of Wisconsin is changing the way it handles some of its worst juvenile offenders.

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