Wednesday, March 9, 2016

"County officials bemoan pace of removing teens from Lincoln Hills"

From JSOnline:

By Don Behm of the Journal Sentinel   March 9, 2016 2:28 p.m. 

"Milwaukee County juvenile court judges in the past month have approved transferring only four teens from the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison back to the county after reviewing the criminal histories of 20 youth along with needs for education, behavioral and health services, officials said Wednesday.

"The slow progress in removing all county youth from both Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the adjacent Copper Lake School for Girls, located 30 miles north of Wausau, is due to a lack of capacity in the county to treat juvenile offenders, Circuit Court Chief Judge Maxine White said.

"White said she is pushing the county Department of Health and Human Services to speed up its multiyear timetable for adding capacity in both detention facilities and community-based services. She spoke Wednesday at a meeting of the County Board's health and human needs committee.

"Concern for safety of the youth at the state-run prison was prompted by an ongoing federal and state investigation into allegations of abuse, neglect, sexual assault and excessive use of force. The investigation was revealed publicly after an early December law enforcement raid of the prison in Irma in Lincoln County.

"In January, after visiting the prison, White described treatment of youth there as 'inhumane.'

"On Feb. 4, the County Board declared a "state of emergency" and agreed to remove all county teenagers from Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. The number at the time was reported at 170 to 172.

"Although county juvenile court judges have sentenced a few of the most serious juvenile offenders to the northern prison since that time, the most recent census provided by state corrections officials reported the number of Milwaukee County youth there at 140, according to Health and Human Services Director Hector Colon.

"But county court and human services officials were not notified of where those juveniles were taken after their release from prison, White said. 'Where are the 32?' she said."

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Put them up in fancy hotels.  The costs are about the same.

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