“Failed to help:” Advocates, officials call for closure of Lincoln Hills youth prison

November 16, 2017

MILWAUKEE — Advocates from Youth Justice Milwaukee, formerly incarcerated youth, representatives from the faith community, government officials and the Common Council spoke at a news conference on Thursday, November 16th to demand the closure of the Lincoln Hills youth prison.

During the news conference, they also called for county officials to stop the flow of young people into this facility.

“It’s clear that Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake have failed to help young people,” said Sean Wilson, Youth Justice Milwaukee coalition member. “It’s no surprise that an inherently inhumane environment like Lincoln Hills isn’t helping young people get back on track. The best way forward is to keep investing in community treatment programs that actually work, and are close to their families and support networks that can keep them safe and hold them accountable.”

“While needed reforms to our country’s broken juvenile justice system garner national attention, Wisconsin, through its dangerous Lincoln Hill and Cooper Lake Youth Prisons, continues to put young people in harm’s way and ignores the principals of safety, justice, and restoration,” said Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of Color Of Change.

A federal investigation into allegations of prisoner abuse and child neglect at Lincoln Hills began in 2015 and has yet to conclude. No one has been charged. Numerous lawsuits have also been filed, including one by teen inmates represented by the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Juvenile Law Center.

A federal judge in that case in July ordered the prison to sharply reduce its use of pepper spray, solitary confinement and shackles. Workers have said that order has led to increased inmate violence.

For details on Youth Justice Milwaukee’s recommended alternatives to sending youth to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Juvenile Prisons, click here.