Officials are developing plans to transfer some of the 160 Milwaukee inmates held at Lincoln Hills School in northern Wisconsin out of the facility.
Milwaukee County officials are worried about the safety of teen offenders held at Lincoln Hills, after an investigation into the use of excessive force at the school led to several suspensions and the firing of one staff member. Two inmates suffered broken arms.
Milwaukee's chief judge last week called on the county to find a way to move Milwaukee youth out of the institution. But state Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd, D-Milwaukee, said she's concerned the county could decide to move some of the teens to the county's adult house of corrections.
"We've got to think really long and hard and be strategic about this. Because then, we run that risk of kids being placed with adults, and we don't want to put them in another situation where they are in harm's way," Harris Dodd said.
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County officials have also asked for space at the Racine County Juvenile Detention Facility.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele is seeking funds to hire new staff to monitor the safety of Milwaukee youth held at Lincoln Hills, and the county board will vote next week on a resolution urging immediate action on finding other facilities to house Milwaukee juvenile offenders.
But state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said until the county finds the money and the space to house juveniles in the Milwaukee area, the priority should be creating programs at Lincoln Hills that specifically target the needs of the inner-city youth who are held there.
Both Taylor and Dodd-Harris visited Lincoln Hills earlier this month. They brought community youth activists with them who held workshops with the inmates. The groups have pledged to help create programs at Lincoln Hills that will keep the youth there in closer touch with their families and prepare them for readjusting to the community after they serve their time.