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Incident at Lincoln Hills shows need for moving inmates

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Despite reports of some improvement, troubles remain at Wisconsin’s youth prison. The Lincoln Hills School for Boys has been the site of allegations of physical and sexual harassment. The ACLU filed a lawsuit over the use of pepper spray and solitary confinement. The FBI is conducting an investigation. Recently, a monitor visited the prison, and noted there seems to be some improvement in how inmates are behaving, and how guards are treating inmates. That may have been a bit premature. Just weeks after that visit, a huge fight broke out among inmates. As many as 26 people were involved, and one guard ended up with a broken nose before order was restored. After largely ignoring the troubles at Lincoln Hills for years, then Governor Scott Walker ordered the prison to be closed, and a series of smaller, regional prisons for troubled youth to be opened in Wisconsin. The timetable set for doing so may have been too ambitious, and Governor Tony Evers has delayed the closing. But this shouldn’t be put on the back burner. Milwaukee County has agreed to remodel a facility to house troubled teens, but is still awaiting approval of a grant from a legislative committee. If approval doesn’t come soon, nothing will be built. Members of the Joint Finance Committee should make deciding whether the grant will be approved a priority. Because until then, Wisconsin’s troubled teens will remain in a large institutional facility far from home, and there will no doubt be more trouble that could lead to another broken nose.

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