Governor Walker releases plan to close Lincoln Hills and open five regional facilities
MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) – Governor Scott Walker just announced a plan to provide a long-term solution for Wisconsin’s juvenile corrections and treatment systems following extensive discussions with state and local officials, the judicial system, and stakeholders. The plan significantly reforms juvenile corrections by closing Lincoln Hills and opening five smaller, regional facilities located across the state.
The plan also expands Wisconsin’s juvenile treatment program for offenders with mental health challenges at the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Madison.
“By moving from one facility to several facilities across the state, and placing a focus on mental health and trauma-informed care, we believe this plan will improve long-term outcomes for both juveniles and our staff working at these facilities,” Governor Walker said. “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.”
The plan would build five new correctional facilities and one new juvenile mental health facility.
The correctional facilities will each consist of 32 to 36 beds with staffing ratios consistent with requirements in the Prison Rape Elimination Act and will be sited regionally based on population density.
At least one correctional facility will be located in the northern part of the state.
The plan will transition the current Lincoln Hills/ Copper Lake facility into a medium-security adult correctional facility. Staff currently working at the juvenile facility will have jobs available either at the adult facility or a new juvenile facility.
Governor Walker says funding for the conversion and new construction will be provided in the 2019-21 Executive Budget. Construction costs are estimated to cost $80 million.
The proposed changes have people both for and against the idea. One former Lincoln Hills inmate says smarter facilities with more attention to the youth inside is a good start.