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Juvenile prison in Wisconsin under fire, part of new nationwide trend

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Lincoln Hills facing charges
of child abuse, neglect

The Lincoln Hills prison for juveniles in Wisconsin has come under fire for charges of child abuse and neglect. 

Now, an interest group based in Indiana wants it closed.

The campaign by the group Youth First has conducted a survey showing that minorities and people under 30 don’t agree with locking up juveniles in adult-style prisons. 

Youth First has placed the Lincoln Hills on a list of 80 facilities that should be closed.

Da’Quon Beaver, who is fighting for reform after serving time in youth prisons in Virginia, is with Youth First.

“When I was 14 years old,” Beaver said during a media conference call, “I was charged as an adult and later convicted. I was sent to 48 years. I spent most of my youth incarcerated in Virginia’s juvenile prisons.”

Sending juveniles to adult-style prisons maybe it seemed like a good idea at the time. That trend, however, hasn’t worked, according to Youth First.. 

Liz Ryan from the group says juveniles have suffered as a result of efforts to get tougher on young offenders.

“Between the early 90s and the end of the 90s, almost every single state passed into law to try kids as adults in court,” Ryan said.

Lincoln Hills has also been targeted for having old and overcrowded buildings. 

Pollster Mike Bocian says a survey by Youth First shows that Americans have shifted their attitudes away from punishment and toward rehabilitation for juveniles

“There’s a core belief, that youth are very capable of change and making positive contributions to society,” Bocian said. “So the question becomes, ‘How do we do it?’”

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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