Funding for Milwaukee youth prison unlikely to pass

February 22, 2022 GMT

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A bill with broad bipartisan support that would borrow $42 million to pay for a new juvenile youth prison to be located in Milwaukee County appears unlikely to pass the Legislature this session, continuing to stall closure of the state’s troubled juvenile prison north of Wausau.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said Tuesday that the Assembly is unlikely to take up the measure because it’s hard to approve borrowing money before an exact site is determined. The Senate passed it unanimously without debate.

The proposal would authorize the state to borrow nearly $42 million to build the facility in Milwaukee County. The Legislature four years ago vote to close the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons that share a campus in Irma, but lawmakers never came through with the money for a replacement facility.

The FBI in 2015 probed allegations of prisoner abuse, sexual assault, witness intimidation and record tampering at Lincoln Hills. The investigation ended in 2019 with no charges filed, but the state Department of Corrections reached settlements totaling more than $25 million in cases brought by inmates’ families.

A federal judge assigned a monitor to assess conditions at the prison as part of a 2017 settlement resolving a lawsuit brought by civil rights and youth advocates.