Just recently, the troubled Wisconsin Youth Prison known as Lincoln Hills School welcomed a few members of the Fox 11 media for a tour. However, no cameras were allowed inside.
The visit aimed to find out about the changes being put in place to improve the conditions for the inmates and staffers. This troubled youth correctional center houses multiple facilities.
Two were visited during the Fox News 11 prison tour:
- Lincoln Hills School for Boys
- Copper Lake School for Girls
Hostility Inside the Wisconsin Youth Prison
The two correctional facilities were quiet during the visits. For many years, the center has been scrutinized, with the current criminal investigations digging into:
- Youth prisoner abuse
- Child neglect
The situation became so intense that a federal judge had to issue a prohibitory order to the youth prison, earlier this year. Authorities are no longer allowed to use any of the following on the juvenile offenders:
- Pepper spray
- Solitary confinement
Lawsuits Filed Again Wisconsin Youth Prison
Some of the victims have even filed lawsuits against the facility.
John Paquin, an Interim Superintendent, has acknowledged that significant changes have occurred over the last year and more are yet to come.
One of the changes that are yet to happen is employing a permanent Superintendent. The last two years have seen more than a dozen of staffers quitting the job or being put on leave.
The facility has budgeted to higher 94 youth counselor, but currently, there is space for:
- 20 youth counselors
- 13 youth counselor supervisors
To attract potential millennial to apply for the jobs, the facility plans to drop some of the current restrictions. Among the targeted restrictions include that which bars staff from coming along with their cell phones.
And as for the youth inmates’ population, there are currently:
- 142 boy inmates
- 20 girl prisoners
Reduction in Wisconsin’s Juvenile Inmates
The number has significantly reduced compared to the 264, two years ago.
Out of the 12 housing units in the property, at least four are now vacant. The units and hallways have been decorated for the holidays.
The facility has also hired an outside nursing agency to administer medications, as one of the changes.
The psychiatric services have been improved by:
- Increasing the number of staffers
- Implementing additional resources
The prison has increased recreational and educational opportunities to help keep the inmates more engaged. Such programs have been proven to help reduce the school to prison pipeline.
Current Situation in Wisconsin Juvenile Solitary Confinement Units
However, the media personals were not allowed to view the 2-restrictive housing units. The two chambers are the basis of the suits facing the facility.
This summer, a federal judge ordered that unruly inmates should only stay in solitary confinement for 7-days as a behavioral punishment. Prior to the order, offenders would be held there for up to 60-days.
The staffers have also made the conditions in the restrictive housing quite friendly, compared to a year back.
Demands for Closure of Lincoln Hills Juvenile Facility
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Several people are demanding for the closure of Lincoln Hills complex. This fall State Senator Lena Taylor, a Democrat, sponsored a bill to close down Lincoln Hills in the next one year if the changes can’t be made.
However, from the look of things, it’s evident that officials are doing their best to keep the facility operational.
Currently, their priority is maximizing security and safety for the staff and inmates.
But the Department of Corrections’ personnel refused to comment about the pending litigation or legislation involving the youth correctional facility.