Rep. Barnes and Rep. Goyke Statement on Visit to Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls Facility
“Unfortunately, it has come to state and federal investigations to showcase how yet another piece of our state has spiraled out of control under the watch of Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans,” said Rep. Barnes.
MADISON – On December 21, Rep. Mandela Barnes (D – Milwaukee) – ranking Democratic member on the Assembly Corrections Committee – and Rep. Evan Goyke (D – Milwaukee) – ranking Democratic member on the Assembly Criminal Justice – drove to Irma, WI to visit with youth, staff, and administrators at the state-operated Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls (Lincoln Hills) facility. They are among the first legislators to visit the facility and the community in light of investigations of alleged abuses and potentially criminal behavior at the facility.
“For far too long, the safety and security of individuals and staff in facilities like Lincoln Hills has been jeopardized by the mismanagement of Gov. Walker and policies of his GOP counterparts in the state legislature. In fact, Wisconsin Republicans were made aware of reports of unsafe behavior and a toxic environment at Lincoln Hills up to a year ago on – yet, they failed to act on these systemic failures that put our youth and staff in harm’s way,” said Rep. Barnes. “Unfortunately, it has come to state and federal investigations to showcase how yet another piece of our state has spiraled out of control under the watch of Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans. It is time to stand up and demand answers and provide solutions to fix our broken corrections system and ensure the safety of youth, inmates, and staff at Lincoln Hills and other facilities across our state.
After receiving a briefing from representatives from the Department of Corrections and administrators at Lincoln Hills, they took a tour of the facility grounds and then met with local workers and community members.
“Swift remedial action is necessary to ensure the safety of children and staff at Lincoln Hills. This must involve the immediate addition of trained staff to reduce the staff-to-child ratio and alleviate the over worked staff. Lincoln Hills desperately needs additional staff resources, not just forced overtime, to address the real safety issues that continue to exist,” said Rep. Goyke. “After we ensure safety at Lincoln Hills, we need to have an honest debate about juvenile corrections in Wisconsin. The current costs are too high and outcome too low. That is why I am proposing a more effective and efficient model which has been pioneered in Missouri. By utilizing smaller facilities closer to home, this model has produced better outcomes at a lower cost. By adopting the ‘Missouri Model,’ we can create real reform in our juvenile corrections system and create a safer environment for youth and staff all across our state.”
By Rep. Barnes and Rep. Goyke
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