Juveniles in those facilities, which are the target of a federal investigation and the subject of multiple lawsuits alleging inmate abuse, will be relocated to five new juvenile correction facilities and one new juvenile mental health facility.
The plan transforms Wisconsin's juvenile corrections system from one facility to five smaller, regional facilities located across the state.
Prison workers said conditions have worsened since a federal court order in July limited solitary confinement and pepper spray.
Under the plan, most of the juveniles wouldn't be moved until next year at the earliest.
State statute requires one to be in the northern part of Wisconsin, and space at Mendota Mental Health Institute near Madison would be utilized for the all-female facility and mental health housing.
DOC Secretary Jon Litscher, who took over the department in 2016 after almost all DOC officials who oversaw juvenile corrections quit or were fired, said in a statement the plan will "build on the many reforms" put in place since he took over.
The state will begin working with counties and other stakeholders to immediately site the new facilities and plan any other actions needed to ensure a smooth transition. This will maintain and potentially even expand the number of jobs in Lincoln County. Only now that a criminal investigation by the FBI is ramping up is Gov.
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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).
Moore works with young people at the Urban Underground, some who have spent time at Lincoln Hills.
While the proposal boasts bipartisan support, many Democrats were nearly immediately skeptical of the timing of the announcement. "It's happening now. That's a good thing", said state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc. "The timing of this announcement is so transparent and does nothing to address the immediate safety concerns for staff and youth". Others are expected to be in southeastern Wisconsin, closer to Milwaukee and Madison where most of the young inmates come from.
We are relieved that the state is moving away from a model that just doesn't work - large youth prisons that violate the Constitution and are risky to youth. "The smaller the clientele, the more directed services can be", which hopefully will reduce the rate of recidivism among youth.
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.
The state of Wisconsin is changing the way it handles some of its worst juvenile offenders. They won't hire the people.