Resolution Declares “State of Emergency” on Youths at Lincoln Hills
Measure Urgently Calls for Creation of a Local Option for Juvenile Placements
Milwaukee County Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr. today introduced a resolution declaring the situation at the state’s Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls to be an “emergency,” and authorizing the use of $500,000 from the County’s contingency fund for creation of an alternative facility.
The resolution, co-authored with Supervisors Supreme Moore Omokunde and Marina Dimitrijevic, cites allegations of physical abuse of a child, second-degree sexual assault, victim and witness intimidation, and suicide attempts at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake that have resulted in a John Doe investigation, a raid of Lincoln Hills by law enforcement, a reduction in staff due to the investigation, and questions of civil rights violations among the reasons for the authorization of funds. Attorney General Brad Schimel said a year-long probe of the facilities could go on for another year.
Milwaukee County Chief Judge Maxine White told the Committee on Health and Human Needs last week that the treatment of youths at the facilities is “inhumane.”
“We’ve seen enough, we’ve heard enough and we’ve had enough,” Lipscomb said. “Judge White has described the situation in detail, and her testimony along with media reports have made it very clear that we have reached an emergency situation at these facilities. It is time for us to step in and develop local alternative placements for Milwaukee County youths.
“We cannot tolerate abuse of youths anywhere, least of all at state facilities that are charged with protecting and educating them. Judge White informed us of this intolerable situation, and we are responding.”
Recently there were 140 boys at Lincoln Hills and 18 girls at Copper Lake from Milwaukee County.
The resolution authorizes the Milwaukee County Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to create a plan that will allow Milwaukee County youths to be moved from Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake to a new facility or program. The resolution also authorizes DHHS’s Delinquency and Court Services to create a program that presents the courts with a full 365-day detention option for Milwaukee County as a local alternative to sending youths to Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake, three-and-a-half hours away.
The resolution calls for DHHS to present a plan to the County Board for approval in March.
“We cannot wait to act,” Lipscomb said. “The situation at these facilities is critical, and the County Board cannot stand by as County youths are being abused at state facilities. This resolution will bring relief to families who have relatives in these facilities, who are subjects to horrific conditions and suffering.”
The full County Board is expected to consider the resolution at its meeting Thursday after review by the Committee on Finance, Personnel, and Audit.