By Jessie Opoien
A bipartisan proposal from Assembly lawmakers would remove inmates from the state’s embattled youth prison by 2020 and send most youth offenders to facilities overseen by counties throughout the state.
The most serious juvenile offenders — those who commit crimes such as murder or first-degree sexual assault — would be housed in new facilities overseen by the state Department of Corrections. Those who commit lesser offenses would be placed in secure residential care centers overseen by county governments with support from the state Department of Children and Families.
The proposal comes after years of allegations of inmate abuse and unsafe working conditions at Lincoln Hills, the state’s only juvenile corrections facility. The Irma facility is under a federal investigation and the subject of several lawsuits. Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, who heads the Assembly corrections committee, said it was clear to him after touring Lincoln Hills that “a number of these juveniles were being failed by the system.”