By State Representative, Leon D. Young
Let’s make one thing crystal clear from the outset: It was the responsibility of the supervisors and prison administrators to inform family members of victims, county officials, and law enforcement of the physical and sexual abuse that was occurring at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile facilities.
Now that the FBI has launched a criminal probe into the conditions at these two juvenile institutions, we can finally ascertain the truth.
The federal focus will center on potential civil rights violations as well as allegations of prisoner abuse, excessive force, child neglect and sexual assault.
But, noticeably absent from all this public hullabaloo concerning Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake has been Governor Scott Walker’s office.
True enough, Walker and State Attorney Brad Schimel have had a public spat of sorts.
Not that long ago, Walker brought up Schimel’s Department of Justice in explaining why his administration Continued on page 7 was not detailing the cost of putting employees at Lincoln Hills School on paid leave while they are investigated for activities at the Northwood’s secure institution for teenagers.
To date, sixteen employees have been put on paid leave at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake School, the secure facilities for young people that share a campus in Irma, 30 miles north of Wausau.
In the wake of this expanding scandal, the Department of Corrections Secretary Ed Wall resigned his post on February 27th.
But, under Wisconsin’s old civil service system, which was recently revamped during this past legislative session, Wall is entitled to be reinstated in his old administrator position with the Department of Justice and will be paid $106,000 annually.
Back in February, Walker’s office released a 2012 letter in which Racine Circuit Court Judge Richard Kreul warned of an inmate-on-inmate abuse case at Lincoln Hills that the state mishandled.
Walker has alleged that neither he nor his senior office staff read the letter, and downplayed the judge’s warning as a “constituent contact.”
According to Walker, the letter was then sent to the Department of Corrections for follow-up.
Walker also contends that the letter involved inmate-on-inmate abuse — not the current alleged staff-on-inmate abuse — and that the DOC made changes.
In the final analysis, this is nothing more than an elaborate attempt to deflect the blame.
The atrocities that happened at Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake occurred on Walker’s watch.
It stands to reason that Walker and his administration should be held accountable – for what he knew and, equally damning, for what he should have known.