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Milwaukee council approves site for new youth prison

Wisconsin Department of Corrections

The Milwaukee Common Council on Friday overwhelmingly approved building a new youth prison in the city to replace a troubled one in northern Wisconsin that has been targeted for closure for years.

Officials in Gov. Tony Evers’ administration announced Tuesday they had picked a site in an industrial area of the city for the facility.

A bill Evers signed this year provided $42 million for the project and required the council to sign off on a site. The council wasn’t scheduled to meet until September, but council President Jose Perez called a special meeting Friday to consider the location. The council voted 11-1 to approve the project. Alderwoman Milele Coggs cast the lone dissenting vote.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that neighbors' reaction to the plan has been mixed. The area has lacked representation on the council since Alderwoman Chantia Lewis was convicted of misconduct in office in July for using campaign funds for trips and personal expenses.

The new facility would replace the state’s troubled youth prison outside Irma. Officially known as the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, it has been plagued by allegations of guard-on-prisoner abuse for years.

A number of steps remain before construction could begin, including public hearings and city zoning approval.

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