Juvenile Corrections Reform
State Representative Michael Schraa of Oshkosh feels a plan to close Lincoln Hills and fund new facilities to house Juvenile offenders will work. Schraa and State Representative Evan Goyke of Milwaukee fashioned a plan. The Governor signed a bill at the end of last month that will close the troubled youth prison by 2021. Schraa says there wasn’t much prison staff could do after an ACLU lawsuit threw the spotlight on guard-on-prisoner accusations at Lincoln Hills. He says, “I really think that starting from scratch is the best way to go. It is such a negative connotation up there and nothing really good was ever going to happen after the ACLU lawsuit and people’s hands were tied as much as they were.” The plan Schraa and Goyke came up with calls for a new facility for serious juvenile offenders closer to Milwaukee where 80 percent of the more dangerous offenders at Lincoln Hills come from. There would also be 3 to 5 county run juvenile facilities that would receive funding from the state. About $80 million in funding would be available for the facilities. Schraa says, “We worked bipartisanly on this to really come up with a transformational piece of legislation that after I’m done and gone from the legislature I’ll be able to look back and say hey you know that is part of my legacy you know I was involved in this from day one.” Schraa chairs the State Assembly’s Corrections Committee.