Two state lawmakers visited Lincoln Hills school in Irma this week and said that conditions have improved at the juvenile correctional facility.
State Department of Corrections officials still haven't named the 16 employees suspended at the school after allegations of child abuse at the detention center surfaced in December.
State Sens. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee and Nikiya Harris-Dodd, D-Milwaukee, brought a group of community youth advocates from Milwaukee to the school Thursday. Taylor said body cameras worn by staff and a new inmate complaint process appear to be working. She said drama and poetry workshops the Milwaukee groups conducted got a very positive reception.
"I believe that the programming that we were able to bring and the department's willingness to allow that to happen and to have it happen going forward, that was probably the most powerful," Taylor said. "Even the young people spoke about more of this is what they needed and what they want."
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The group Wraparound Milwaukee plans to work with school staff to help inmates stay more connected to their families so young offenders can make a positive transition back to their community when they're released.
Yolanda Brown, the mother of one inmate who joined the senators, said the African-American teens being held there need "more of their kind so they can understand better." Brown said she hopes the visit sends a message to staff.
"There are people who really do care about these kids and that they want to make a difference and get some understanding and get the communication better so that abuses at the school will stop and that we can move forward to something better," she said.
More than half of the youth held at the Lincoln Hills Copper Lake schools come from Milwaukee.