Madison (WQOW) - Governor Scott Walker announced Thursday plans to close the Lincoln Hills Juvenile Prison and open five regional prisons for teenagers.
A federal judge last year ordered the state to dramatically reduce its use of solitary confinement, shackles and pepper spray on inmates at Lincoln Hills, which is about 20 miles north of Wausau.
In a press release, Governor Walker made the following statement:
“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 governor also says his plan will:
Democratic candidates for governor, Dana Wachs and Tony Evers released the following statements about Walker's plan
“At least we know what it takes for Gov. Walker to do the right thing -- a federal criminal investigation.
“Gov. Walker had the opportunity to do the right thing time and time again, but he only caved after the pressure became too much.
“I called for Gov. Walker to shut down Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. But it wasn’t common sense, decency, or the growing chorus of folks all over this state calling for the closure of Lincoln Hills that made Walker act. It was the pressure of failure and the threat of his political career ending. Ignoring the ongoing abuse of Wisconsin youth and the imminent danger of facility workers is criminal negligence at best.
“As Wisconsin’s governor, I will work side-by-side with the folks of this state on every decision, big or small. That’s what we need, not a career politician who operates out of fear.”
"If Scott Walker thinks that his statement today washes away 2,055 days of scandal, mismanagement and cover-up, he's got another thing coming. How many kids have (been) abused during the 5 years Walker failed to act. How many staff have been harassed and beaten? How many lives have been ruined? Now he wants us to believe the same people who cause the Lincoln Hills mess are going to fix it. We need responsible leaders who are more focused about solving problems and protecting lives than winning elections."