Milwaukee site proposed for new youth correctional facility to help close Lincoln Hills

NOW: Milwaukee site proposed for new youth correctional facility to help close Lincoln Hills

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin is one step closer to shutting down the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons, an effort going back to the Scott Walker administration.

The youth prisons have been plagued with claims of abuse and mismanagement which led to lawsuits.

Now, the state has recommended a new site in Milwaukee for a type 1 youth correctional facility as part of its plan to close Lincoln Hills and transition to multiple, smaller sites across the state.

"I'm excited, but really, it isn't about building a new facility, it's about knowing that the day that Lincoln Hills no longer incarcerates juveniles is one day closer," Rep. Evan Goyke (D - Milwaukee) said in an interview with CBS 58.

Goyke is among several officials who have worked over several years to try to close down the youth prison. He says the site in the city will lead to better outcomes for incarcerated youth.

"It's proximate to families and urban centers like Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha and it is going to be allocation where much more community engagement can take place and that matters as kids transition home," Goyke said.

The proposed site sits on the northern edge of the city near 76th Street and West Clinton Avenue.

Supporters of the project say it's a win-win, including for the Felmers Chaney Correctional Center, which was being considered as a potential site before opposition spoke against that consideration.

"We're just ecstatic about this decision, the Chaney Center needs to remain open, it makes a big difference," said Pastor David Rebey of the Breaking the Chains Church at the Cheney Center.

There are still several more steps in the process at the local and state level, but supporters like Rep. Goyke and Pastor Rebey said they are ready to help push the project through.

"We've offered to help host community meetings to build the community support behind this new site selection," Rebey said.

The Milwaukee Common Council is set to vote on whether or not to support the project in a special meeting scheduled for Friday.

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