What will it take to get Republican leaders to intervene?
Reports of child abuse, sexual assault not enough to spur GOP investigation
MADISON – While the scandal surrounding Lincoln Hills continues to unfold, Senate Republicans are refusing to investigate the serious allegations that have been raised at the juvenile facility. Committee Chair Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) has refused a request from Senate Democrats to hold an informational hearing and uncover whether similar situations exist in other state facilities. Likewise, Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst), who represents Lincoln Hills and the surrounding communities, failed to intervene and prevent additional incidents, including two recent suicide attempts and an assault that resulted in one inmate needing to have two toes amputated.
“Gov. Walker’s presidential campaign is over,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “After months of knowing about allegations of child abuse and sexual assaults at this facility, it’s time for legislative Republicans to stop covering for Gov. Walker.”
Investigative reports revealed Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans have known of serious issues for months, if not years, but failed to immediately intervene and prevent additional assaults. Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) and Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), who sit on the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, have called for an immediate public inquiry into safety and understaffing issues at Wisconsin’s correctional facilities. Republican leaders including Sen. Wanggaard and Sen. Tiffany have sought to downplay these concerns, minimize their legislative responsibilities and prevent pro-active interventions.
“The lack of proper management and executive oversight at the Dept. of Corrections mirrors the problems we’ve seen at Gov. Walker’s WEDC and other struggling agencies,” Sen. Shilling added. “While hardworking frontline staff are doing their best to ensure public safety and maintain order, top-level Republican leaders continue to cover-up serious problems and invite corruption. If Republicans aren’t willing to investigate allegations of child abuse and sexual assaults, I don’t know what it will take to get them to act. In my opinion, we need stronger accountability from the top down and we need it now.”