Michael Flynn And Russia, Police Recruits Learn About Mental Illness, Wisconsin Youth And Prisons

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Madison’s current class of police recruits were recently trained on how to better interact with, and assist, those suffering from mental illness. A WPR reporter embedded with the class talks about what the training consisted of and what the recruits say they learned. We also discuss new data that shows most Wisconsinites want to keep the state’s youth out of prisons. And, we look at what’s going on with national security adviser Michael Flynn, who appears to be in political hot water over comments made to a Russian ambassador before President Trump took office.

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  • Questions Remain Over National Security Adviser's Conversation With Russian Ambassador

    National security adviser Michael Flynn remains in the political hot seat, after a report last week claimed he spoke with a Russian ambassador, before President Trump took office, about sanctions against the country, a possibly illegal action. We look at the unfolding story and where things might go from here.

  • Madison Police Recruits Train To Understand Mental Illness

    When police interact with citizens suffering from mental illness, communication can be difficult and situations may sometimes end in tragedy. To better understand mental illness and serve those struggling with it, Madison’s current class of police recruits underwent a day of training on the subject. WPR reporter Bridgit Bowden was there to observe, and she joins us to discuss what the recruits learned.

  • New Poll Shows A Majority of Wisconsinites Would Like To Send Fewer Young People To Youth Prisons

    According to a new poll from Youth Justice Milwaukee, a majority of Wisconsin residents would like to see reforms to the state’s juvenile justice system. We speak with Jeff Roman of YJM about the poll.

  • Poll: Majority Of Wisconsinites Want To Keep Youth Out Of Prison

    The majority of Wisconsin residents would like to see fewer young people sent to youth prisons, such as the Lincoln Hills School for Boys, or the Copper Lake School for Girls, according to a recent poll released by Youth Justice Milwaukee.

    The poll shows a shift in attitudes towards how juvenile crime is tackled in the state, said Jeff Roman, a member of YJM, which is a group of youth advocates, organizations and family of youths in the juvenile justice system.

    “We’re seeing an overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites who would rather see young people be provided additional resources and support for their neighborhoods and families as alternatives to going being sent to prison or being incarcerated,” Roman said.

    Seventy-five percent of the 500 adults who responded to the statewide online poll favor prevention and rehabilitation over incarceration.

    The FBI is investigating Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake for a slew of troubling allegations. Among the complaints is a lack of classes and enrichment opportunities available to the prisoners, and more seriously, widespread allegations of abuse and neglect.

    As the controversies engulf these correctional facilities, many people would like to see reforms implemented, according to the poll conducted in January.

    How states are pursuing juvenile incarceration is failing, Roman said, and both Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake are examples of a system that isn’t working.

    “It’s an outdated, failed model that is disproportionately based on biases and racial disparities,” he said. “There are proven practices and proven models that are working now given the culture and context of our community now.”

    Roman points to emerging research surrounding how young people’s brains work as being necessary to reference when developing juvenile justice reform.

    “There are different considerations that we need to give young people, particularly around the research that’s emerging around brain development and pro-social development that a lot of our prisons, because they’re so outdated, they aren’t subscribing to a lot of those theories of changes now,” Roman said.

    Among those considerations are where youth offenders should be housed.

    Both Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake are located in Irma, found in the north central part of the state. It’s remote location frequently makes it difficult for families, especially those who reside in Milwaukee, to visit a child. In the poll, many respondents supported having juvenile offenders placed in facilities closer to their homes to aid family visits.

    Roman said since young peoples’ brains are still developing, usually until the mid 20s, restricting access to families and the traditions that these children rely on can hinder the recovery process. He points to a lack of positive community, being disconnected from family, and the isolation young people from those supports as being part of a greater problem.

    “We’re not creating a remedy, we’re actually just doing punishment. And we all know that punishment is not a remedy,” Roman said. “In order to be really rehabilitative and really help to transform and transcend some of the things our young people are doing, we have to make sure that they have access to family members and positive supports from those that they’re familiar with.”

    According to the poll, many respondents are in favor of prevention and rehabilitation before resorting to incarceration. Roman said there are some interventions that can happen in the community to keep kids from committing crimes and out of the juvenile justice system.

    He points to a number of community organizations, particularly in Milwaukee, utilizing what has been learned from the CDC’s Adverse Childhood Experience study. He also said these organizations use trauma-informed care to help assist young people.

    Roman said using these preventative tactics can help these organizations when they intervene with young people and re-frame the issues being confronted.

    “It gets to ‘Why did you do something?’ instead of just trying to hold you accountable right away,” Roman said. “We want to really go deeper and really figure out what’s lead you here, why you’ve done (something), why there are certain behaviors you’re having. There’s a reason for everything.”

    Despite emerging fields of prevention and rehabilitation, Roman does admit some youth do need time to away from the general public. He said these young people need to be in secure areas where they can’t harm themselves or others. But he said the issue isn’t accountability for these kids, it’s that the rehabilitation simply isn’t happening in a constructive way.

    “A high percentage of young people within three years recidivate back into the system,” Roman said. “A lot of times that leads to a pipeline right into the adult system. And so if we’re seeing that amount of young people going back into the system, that’s proof there that the system has to take accountability in the ways it’s contributing to the rate recidivism.”

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Kate Archer Kent Host
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Dean Knetter Producer
  • J. Carlisle Larsen Producer
  • Dan De Luce Guest
  • Bridgit Bowden Guest
  • Jeffery Roman Guest