Lawmaker Wants To Replace Lincoln Hills With Small, Regional Facilities

Goyke Says Abuse Issues Related To Staff Shortages

State Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee
State Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) Courtesy of Wisconsin State Legislature

A state legislator from Milwaukee said he believes staff shortages at the state’s juvenile detention center in Irma are to blame for violence between staff and inmates there.

State Rep. Evan Goyke, D-Milwaukee, toured the Lincoln Hills/Cooper Lake School on Monday. He said the school appears to be under control since state and federal investigators launched a probe two weeks ago.

However, he said the facility has more than 20 staff vacancies, forcing many to work double shifts.

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“If you are in charge of monitoring the safety of units of incarcerated youth and you have to stay awake for 16 hours two days in a row or three days in a row, it compromises the safety of the kids and the safety of the staff,” he said.

Goyke wants the state Department of Corrections to fill the vacant positions quickly.

He’s also introducing a bill that would replace large institutions with smaller regional centers that allow a higher staff-to-inmate ratio and keep teen offenders closer to their families.