Youth Justice Milwaukee: Wisconsin is at a Turning Point in Youth Justice
Milwaukee, WI – The vote by the Joint Finance Committee yesterday to not fund the two proposed Type 1 youth prisons in Milwaukee and Outagamie Counties will almost certainly mean that the state will not meet its own deadline to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake by July 1, 2021, just two years after the legislature voted unanimously to close this abusive facility.
This decision comes on the heels of a “Tougher on Crime” bill that would dramatically increase the number of offenses that would allow judges to order youth into prison as Serious Juvenile Offenders (SJO), an intentional strategy to justify continued use of the large youth prison. There are currently fewer than 120 youth in the two facilities combined, 31 Milwaukee youth, of which are considered SJOs, and some youth who have been sentenced as adults.
Wisconsin is at a turning point in Youth Justice.
The cost for counties to utilize these facilities continues to increase as the number of youth continues to decrease: Wisconsin taxpayers on average are spending $233,000 per year for each young person.
Sharlen Moore, the Director of Youth Justice Milwaukee, said:
“YJM calls on Wisconsin lawmakers to stop using young people as a political football to promote a fear-based agenda that continues to waste money a system that has an astonishingly high 75% failure rate. It is time for Wisconsin to abolish the SJO status and allow all youth to be placed in their own counties to heal, repair harm, increase skills, strengthen family and community connections, and receive treatment if needed. Instead of spending $73 million dollars on two new buildings, and millions more each year to operate these facilities, we need to invest these resources in youth, families, and communities.”
“Counties around the state are developing and scaling effective community-based resources to a continuum of care that will make their communities safer. We see this happening in Milwaukee County where assessment and improved case planning has contributed to a significant decline in the number of youth being sent to prison. The State of Wisconsin should support these efforts and close this chapter of Wisconsin’s turbulent youth justice history.”
Youth Justice Milwaukee is a broad-based campaign advocating for community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to locking up children in Wisconsin’s youth prisons. Youth Justice Milwaukee represents a coalition of persons who were incarcerated as youth, families of youth who are or were incarcerated, service providers, and local and national youth justice advocates.
- MKE County: County Has Just 22 Inmates in Youth Prisons - Edgar Mendez - Feb 24th, 2021
- Evers Pushes Juvenile Justice System Changes - Corri Hess - Feb 18th, 2021
- Youth Justice Milwaukee Calls for Transformation of the Wisconsin Youth Justice System as the State Acknowledges it Will Not Meet the July 2021 Deadline to Close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Prisons - Youth Justice Milwaukee - Feb 8th, 2021
- Pandemic Causes Youth Prison Problems - Graham Kilmer - Jan 27th, 2021
- Can State Rescue Youth Corrections Plan? - Graham Kilmer - Jan 11th, 2021
- State Can’t Meet Deadline to Close Youth Prisons - Graham Kilmer - Dec 30th, 2020
- MKE County: Crowley Defers Youth Corrections Grant Until State Has Sustainable Plan - Graham Kilmer - Sep 16th, 2020
- State Blows Up County Youth Corrections Plan - Graham Kilmer - May 20th, 2020
- Youth Advocates Remain Committed to Closing Wisconsin Youth Prisons Following Monitor’s Report - American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin - Mar 5th, 2020
- Milwaukee County Wants Alternatives to Youth Incarceration - Sam Woods - Feb 22nd, 2020
Read more about Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake here
Recent Press Releases by Youth Justice Milwaukee
Signals Strong Bipartisan Support for Community-Based Alternatives to Incarceration to Rehabilitate Youth
"YJM agrees with President Hamilton that there are already enough correctional settings on the north side of Milwaukee."