Gov. Scott Walker Neglects Wisconsin, Ignores Problems Facing Lincoln Hills

Dec 31, 2016

As Gov. Scott Walker returns home from a trip to Cuba this week, a crisis continues on at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys for juveniles at the facility, staff, and their families. Investigative news reports highlight a trend of troublesome incidents at the facility, which were brought to the executive’s office multiple times, persisted for years and in some cases continue to grow worse. [1]

“I can’t imagine what the parents of juveniles located at Lincoln Hills go through each night knowing that the problems revealed to the public a year ago have not been properly addressed by Gov. Walker and his administration,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Martha Laning said on Saturday. “The way Gov. Walker and his administration have treated some of Wisconsin’s most vulnerable citizens is completely unacceptable. He still hasn’t visited the facility to this day, but he’ll wind down the year after making a trip to an island over 1,700 miles away.”

According to media reports, Scott Walker’s office knew about problems at Lincoln Hills dating all the way back to 2012, including a letter sent by a Racine Judge detailing a sexual assault at the state’s youth prison. The Governor’s office was alerted multiple times in 2014 about problems at the facility as well, however, safety concerns persisted and no changes were made in leadership until well after the Department of Justice’s raid in 2015. [2] [3]

“Gov. Walker and his administration should stop ignoring the workers and children at Lincoln Hills and work to face the problems there head-on. Several Democratic lawmakers have toured the facility and spoken with the people who work and live there. Governor Walker should do the same and plan to work with Democrats in the next session to eliminate the numerous safety concerns that arise at all of our state’s correction’s facilities due to staff shortages and pay cuts.” 

[1] Crisis at Lincoln Hill juvenile prison years in making, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
For years, officials knew or should have known about the thicket of problems at Lincoln Hills and its sister facility on the same campus, Copper Lake School for Girls. “It all went on in plain view of the Department of Corrections, but nobody at the Department of Corrections knew how juvenile corrections worked or how Lincoln Hills operated or what was going on,” said Troy Bauch, who until recently was the union representative for workers there. “Nobody cared.” [12/30/16]

[2] Walker’s office heard multiple warnings about Lincoln Hills, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Gov. Scott Walker’s office was told multiple times over the past year about problems at a troubled juvenile prison in northern Wisconsin, including claims of violence against youths and staff, inadequate classroom time, and the need to improve sexual assault safeguards, documents show. [12/17/15]

[3] Scott Walker’s office warned in 2012 of safety issues at Lincoln Hills, Wisconsin State Journal
A Racine County judge warned Gov. Scott Walker’s office in 2012 of severe safety issues at the state’s youth prison, and later the county stopped sending its juvenile offenders to the Irma facility that is now the subject of a criminal investigation. [2/12/16]