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Politics & Government

Rep. Goyke Says Lincoln Hills Process Will Likely Be Slowed Down

Wisconsin Department of Corrections

A legislator who early on asked for the closing of the Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake facility says the committee overseeing the closure is slowing the process a bit to make sure it results in the best outcome.

A bipartisan bill passed last year has the Lincoln county facility closed by January 1, 2021.

A series of costly incidents led the legislature to act. The goal is to move the juveniles to regional facilities.

Representative Evan Goyke says a large committee began designing the programming and where the facilities would be placed...

"...What has come to light in that process is that the timeline that we, as legislators, had put in place under ACT 185 is ambitious I think is the best word. There are stakeholders in county government and the state Department of Corrections have concerns they may not be able to meet that timeline..."

The Milwaukee Democrat says they have been working on language within the original measure...ACT 185..and he says it could result in some changes...

"..I have concerns over the delay and when we passed this legislation it was clear the facility in Lincoln county was going to transition from a juvenile facility to an adult facility everybody wants to make that transition happen, but we want to make sure we do it right. Not just at light speed, we have to get it right. That is what has come to light, we may need for time to make this reform and transition happen..."

Another change being debated might result in the programming being overseen the the state Department of Children and Families and not the Department of Corrections. Goyke says the mission of Childen and Families is best suited for handling juvenile concerns. He says that department does not have guards as Corrections does, so figuring out how that might work probably needs more time than the current bill allows.

The juvenile correctional facilities have been under criminal investigation for prisoner abuse and child neglect. One lawsuit cost the state nearly $19 million. Under the new proposal, some facilities would be run by the counties, others by the state.

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