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Mother of Lincoln Hills Inmate Still Fears for Her Son's Safety

Lincoln Hills
Kelli Moore says she's concerned about the possible long term affects of alleged abuse suffered by some boys at Lincoln Hills

Last week, the Wisconsin Senate confirmed Jon Litscher as the new secretary of the Department of Corrections. He’s taking over while investigations continue into reports of abuse and neglect at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls. The previous secretary, Ed Wall, resigned in February.  When the allegations hit the media we spoke with the mother of inmate assigned to Lincoln Hills. We caught back up with her to find out what, if anything, has changed at the juvenile facilities. The mother’s name has been changed to protect her minor son. 

I first caught up with Kelli Moore in early December. That’s when she told me about a boy her son knew at Lincoln Hills who had lost two toes after a staff member shut a door on his foot. Moore also spoke about the fact that no one from the school had been in contact with her, and how she felt about the rumored sexual abuse by staff members.

“That’s terrifying, and I’m really understanding why my son is telling me that any medication is not working to control his anxiety,” Moore says.

These days, Moore says despite the investigations and attention Lincoln Hills is getting, she’s still just as terrified and concerned about her son’s safety.

“He reassures me every time I speak to him that he hasn’t been violated, touched, hit in any way. He says for the most part everybody’s pretty cool with him because he gives respect and he gets it back. He goes yeah, we get on each other’s nerves meaning him and staff and him and inmates. It just goes with the territory. You know you’re locked up and got two parties of people who are very frustrated,” Moore says.

Moore says the fact that so many people have been fired also concerns her.

“People who have been fired for behavior, they have not brought anybody in. So I have no idea how they are running that facility,” Moore says.

Moore says her son recently told her about a member of the kitchen staff who was fired within the past couple of weeks for alleged sexual contact with boys. And Moore says there was about a three week period when the boys were locked in their room all day and not going to school because there weren’t enough staff members to safely get them to class. She says now that steps have been taken to get the kids back in school her son seems happier, but she still worries about the long term effects of the alleged abuse on all the kids there.

“When they come from a bad start, they end up there and then the authority there is abusing them. It’s not run properly, it’s not managed properly, so it allows for these things to happen, they’re going to be even more angry when they get out,” Moore says.

Moore says that while parents haven’t been given any insight to what’s going on at Lincoln Hills, she did get a sign recently that led her to believe things might be changing for the better.

“Actually, second phone call, maybe third phone call I’ve ever received, I got last week. The nurse called to tell me he stubbed his toe. When he called me the next day, I said how’s your toe? Is everything okay? He goes they called you? I go well yeah. I said she made it kind of sound like it was pretty painful. He said oh, it’s nothing. He goes but they have to call you now, they’re really watching themselves,” Moore says.

A possible sign that the way the facilities are being run could be improving.

“I hope so. I hope so,” Moore says.

Moore says her son will turn 18 in May. Then he’ll be transferred to an adult prison to finish out his sentence.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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