Lincoln Hills Copper Lake Search Turns Up Contraband

3-Day Lockdown Was First In Youth Prison's History

Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons
Glen Moberg/WPR

A three-day search for contraband at Wisconsin’s Lincoln Hills for Boys youth prison turned up a number of items that could be used as weapons.

The campus was locked down for the search from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2.

The items confiscated included screw drivers, a knife, a putty knife, pencils and toothbrushes that had broken and sharpened, a cheese slicer, metal bars, broken and sharpened plastic shanks, a broken piece of mirror with sharp edges, picks, rocks, a twisted key ring, a metal door handle, a broken crochet hook and charcoal lighter fluid.

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Doug Curtis, a former Lincoln Hills youth counselor and union representative, said the items put staff members at risk.

“There were any number of things that were weapons or could be made into weapons, metal rods, I think those were from the welding class up at school… Pieces of plastic from those white plastic chairs that they all have. Those can be very long and very sharp. If something larger was planned, they certainly had enough weapons to go around,” he said.

Curtis said the action made the youth prison safer for the time being.

“It makes it moderately safer because those things aren’t out there, but it hasn’t really changed conditions up there,” he said.

The search also turned up pornography, stolen personal hygiene items and gang symbols.

The prison wide search and lockdown was the first ever conducted at the facility in Irma, about 30 miles north of Wausau.