Dozens of people turned out on Milwaukee's north side Thursday night to talk about where to house a juvenile center once Lincoln Hills' inmates are moved from a troubled facility in northern Wisconsin. Gov. Tony Evers announced this week that his administration has chosen a site at the intersection of Teutonia and Mill Road, on the north side.
Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr presented the plan. He says the state wants to build up to a 10-acre facility at the site, and it would house 32 residents. Carr says after convening a study committee, the administration chose the location at Teutonia and Mill Roads, so that inmates could be close to their families.
"Since 90 percent of the youth that we currently have at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake come from the city of Milwaukee and this geographical area, the governor and I both felt that it was extremely important that we have a facility located in the community from which these youth came from," Carr says.
Carr says the state still has to finalize the deal with the city of Milwaukee, which owns the property. He says a new state law has ordered the closing of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake by January of 2021, so he hopes the center will be up and running by then.
The new facility would be located in Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton's district. He says the announcement of the site took him by surprise, and wishes the state had consulted with him and his constituents first.
"Don't you dare make a decision about where these facilities need to go, without engaging the people who are going to be affected by those decisions," Hamilton says.
Hamilton says he'll hold many more public meetings, to make sure the state has a plan in place for proper treatment of the young inmates. One person in the audience is Dan Robbins of Glendale. He lives near the proposed site and says he hopes security is tight.
"This location is close to our grandchildren's middle school, safety of the children in case of an escape or any kind of event going on at the location," Robbins says.
Meanwhile, Milwaukee County officials say they're still looking for a site to build a 40-bed facility to house inmates from Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake.