Wisconsin Building Commission approves funding for county-run Lincoln Hills replacement facilities
Republican-controlled budget committee rejected state-run facility plans on Feb. 12
By Jalen Maki
Tomahawk Leader Co-Editor
MADISON – The effort to close the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls youth detention facility in Irma and replace it with county-run centers made progress on Thursday, Feb. 27, when the Wisconsin Building Commission approved $348.1 million for projects across the state.
Brown, Dane, Milwaukee and Racine counties will be able to use $102.6 million in bonding to build facilities meant to replace the beleaguered Irma detention center, which has faced years of allegations of abuse and neglect by staff, along with millions of dollars of legal settlements against the state.
“Today’s Building Commission action on the Secure Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth moves us one step closer to sustainable youth justice reform in our state,” Governor Tony Evers said in a statement from Feb. 27. “These facilities will enable youth to receive trauma-informed, evidence-based resources, while bringing the youth at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools closer to home. I want to again share my support and gratitude to Brown, Dane, Milwaukee, and Racine counties and the many stakeholders who have worked diligently with us to move the needle on youth justice reform in our state.”
The Republican-controlled state budget committee approved the funds for the county-run facilities on Feb. 12, but rejected plans to build two state-run detention centers. Department of Corrections (DOC) Secretary Kevin Carr said the decision to forego the state-run centers will make shutting down the Irma facility by next summer’s deadline “very unlikely.”
The Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake facility is required to close by July 1, 2021, a deadline approved by lawmakers and signed into law by Governor Tony Evers in 2019.