Gov. Scott Walker has claimed he only recently learned about the problems at Lincoln Hills, but there is a mountain of evidence suggesting otherwise. Back in February 2012, Walker received a letter from Racine County Circuit Judge Richard Kreul about Lincoln Hills, as the Journal Sentinel has reported. The letter included a copy of a memo detailing the beating and sexual assault of a boy and the failure of Lincoln Hills staff to notify law enforcement and child protective services. “The indifference in this sordid tale is absolutely inexcusable,” Kreul wrote.
When you pile up all the evidence showing state officials and the Walker administration had known for years of the horrors going on at Lincoln Hills, you have to ask why wasn’t something done about this? One possibility is they simply didn’t care. But a more likely explanation is they did not want to devote more resources to the problem.
After weeks of the governor insisting none of this was shared with him, the Journal Sentinel did a public records request asking the Walker administration for documents related to Lincoln Hills. The documents showed Walker’s office “was told multiple times over the past year about problems… including claims of violence against youths and staff, inadequate classroom time, and the need to improve sexual assault safeguards,” the newspaper reported. “On July 28, Kevin McCarthy, a retired corrections employee living near the Irma prison, wrote the governor’s office that he was concerned about the safety of his daughter and friends, who still work at the facility. ‘You have staff who are being assaulted, youth who are being assaulted, doors being broken, windows broken… does the sheriff’s department or state police need to get involved when the staff at Lincoln Hills’” lose control of the institution? McCarthy wrote.
Madison— When a Racine County youth was sexually assaulted and beaten in a Northwoods prison in 2012, state officials told his mother that something had happened but didn’t share with her the full and troubling picture.
The woman was contacted the next day and in the following days county officials were contacted as well, with officials at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys telling the county that the youth had been moved into a security unit, county records show. Inmates are typically sent there for acting out at the state-run prison 30 miles north of Wausau.
What the mother was not told is that on Jan. 13, 2012, another inmate had forced her son to perform a sex act and then struck him.
The woman instead waited more than two weeks to learn the ugly extent of the incident, in which her son waited for hours to be taken to a hospital and for which the aggressor was eventually convicted. It took repeated questioning from Racine County officials to bring the crime to light….
This case is the second shared with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in which a parent of a Lincoln Hills inmate learned of an attack against their son from someone else and not from the state officials charged with keeping him safe. Milwaukee County officials also learned from a tipster about youths from their county having their arms or wrists broken in November 2014….
Madison— State Corrections Secretary Ed Wall has resigned from his post amid a growing scandal over conditions at a troubled Northwoods prison for youth, and the FBI has taken over the sprawling criminal probe into alleged abuses there.
While Wall will leave his post next month, taxpayers may have to pay him for a year while he is not working. He plans to return to a job he had with an agency involved in the probe of Lincoln Hills School for Boys, and if he does he will be put on paid leave to protect the integrity of the probe, a state Department of Justice spokeswoman said.
Word about Wall’s plans came Friday as U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said federal authorities are leading the investigation, which is focusing on possible civil rights violations by staff at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake School for Girls, which share a campus 30 miles north of Wausau….
In Wisconsin, 17-year-olds are three times more likely to return to prison if they originally go through the adult system rather than the juvenile system. As taxpayer advocates, we must question whether continually spending more money on a government program without analyzing the effectiveness or outcomes is a fiscally prudent or a just policy.
We know that a government which simply throws money at problems rarely creates better outcomes. Our government is effectively spending millions of dollars a year to cycle individuals through expensive processes that are unlikely to reduce future offending. This policy is not a responsible use of taxpayer dollars, and it does not result in positive outcomes for young offenders or our communities.