Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Judge Rules on Lincoln Hills

Drastic cutbacks in pepper spray, mechanical constraints, solitary confinement.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Jul 13th, 2017 11:25 am
Lincoln Hills School and Copper Lake School. Photo from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

Lincoln Hills School and Copper Lake School. Photo from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The state has decided not to appeal U.S. District Judge James D. Peterson‘s order that it stop abusing youths at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons.

Peterson this week ordered drastic cutbacks in the the schools’ use of pepper spray, solitary confinement and mechanical restraints on youths entrusted to the state’s care.

The plaintiffs seeking to end abuses at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake wanted far stronger reforms than state defendants would agree to, according to federal court records.

The plaintiffs, present and former inmates at the facilities, were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Juvenile Law Center, with pro-bono assistance from Quarles & Brady. Defendants included Lincoln Hills, Copper Lake, and Department of Corrections officials, including Secretary Jon Litscher.

The two sides disagreed on solitary confinement and restrictive housing reforms and some pepper spray reforms, among other recommendations. They did agree, however, that the use of tethering, or handcuffing a youth’s wrists to a belt around the waist, should be eliminated. Peterson tended to side with the plaintiffs on most issues.

Here is Peterson’s full order.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.

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