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State Announces Closure of Lincoln Hills, How Did We Get Here?

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WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
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Lincoln Hills School has been plagued by allegations of abuse and mismanagement for years. The juvenile correctional facility located in Irma, Wisconsin has been the location of on-going investigations by state and federal agencies. 

The people in charge of the facility have been accused endangering the lives of the teens in their care. Now, Governor Walker has announced a plan to close Lincoln Hills School, and open five regional centers to handle juvenile offenders.

"This would go to a model that has been the one championed by advocates for juvenile justice reform. It's sort of the national standard of having fewer youth in a smaller facility and as close to their homes as possible, that way they can see family on a regular basis, they can access services that they will continue to use when they're released, they'll be near their community," says Patrick Marley, a Madison-based reporter covering state government and politics for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Officials at Lincoln Hills have been accused of child abuse, and in a number of cases were accused of not getting medical help for teens in a timely fashion. When a juvenile inmate was sexually assaulted at the facility, it took more than six hours for him to get medical treatment. A Racine judge wanted to know why.

Marley explains, "[The judge] contacted officials up at Lincoln Hills and asked what had gone wrong, about why there’d been this delay getting medical attention for this boy, and someone at Lincoln Hills told him, ‘What did you want us to do? Stop the basketball game?’"

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Joy Powers joined WUWM January 2016 as producer for Lake Effect. Most recently, she was a director and producer for The Afternoon Shift, on WBEZ-fm, Chicago Public Radio.