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.
Scott Walkerannounced today that his administration will close the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls and build at least five new detention centers that will "align with nationally recognized best practices".
Two members of the Wisconsin Assembly's Corrections Committee say Gov. Scott Walker's plan to create new regional juvenile prisons in the state can be done more quickly than he proposed.
A federal judge ordered previous year that the use of solitary confinement, shackles, and pepper spray be drastically reduced at the facility, which is roughly 20 miles north of Wausau.
"It's essential that we find a workable solution that will bring about better outcomes for juvenile offenders, their families and their communities", Vos said.
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.
The announcement comes as Walker is up for re-election to a third term in November. "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".
"Something had to be done", Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said Thursday. Walker acting. I've got news for Gov. He says nothing in Walker's plan ensures Wisconsin will have an effective approach. "It's happening now. That's a good thing", said state Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc.
The governor dismissed critics who say his 2019 deadline isn't quick enough, saying his proposal has bipartisan support.
Up to three new prisons would be in southeastern Wisconsin near Milwaukee, though the sites have not yet been chosen.
Tom Evenson, spokesman for Walker, said the plan is envisioned to be funded in the 2019-21 budget because "we want to work with all parties to implement it in a thoughtful and purposeful way". "The smaller the clientele, the more directed services can be", which hopefully will reduce the rate of recidivism among youth.
Some inmates would be moved to the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center in Madison this fall, but an outline of the plan does not include details about when all of the roughly 160 inmates could be transferred.
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.
Dupuis says that the ACLU of Wisconsin will continue to monitor what's happening with youth at the two facilities both now and once the transition has been made.
Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a Democrat, also supported the plan.
The state of Wisconsin is changing the way it handles some of its worst juvenile offenders.