By Jason Stein and Patrick Marley
The state Department of Corrections is seeking $3.3 million over the next two years to reform a troubled prison for youth to bring it into line with federal sexual assault protections and to improve a system in which guards currently have to administer medications.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported extensively on problems at Lincoln Hills School for Boys, including with the handling of sexual assaults and the dispensing of incorrect medications by guards.
Gov. Scott Walker will consider the request by new Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher as the GOP governor crafts the 2017-’19 budget bill being introduced in February of next year. If Walker includes the requests for Lincoln Hills, they will still need to be approved by lawmakers to become law.
The requests would bring the following for Lincoln Hills and its sister prison, Copper Lake School for Girls, which share a campus 30 miles north of Wausau:
$557,00 over two years to improve mental health services for girls at Copper Lake
$1.4 million to overhaul the way drugs are administered at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake
$1.3 million more to add 8 more workers at the prisons to help comply with the federal Prison Rape Elimination Act
For the past 20 months, investigators have been looking into allegations of child abuse, prisoner neglect, sexual assault and other crimes. The alleged misconduct there brings with it the possibility of both criminal charges against some current or former staff and civil legal action against the state by the U.S. Department of Justice for potential civil rights violations.