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Senate committee chairman rejects call for hearing over youth prison abuse allegations

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Lincoln Hills School

MADISON — The Republican leader of the Wisconsin Senate’s Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety has rejected a call for a hearing on allegations of inmate abuse at Wisconsin’s youth prison.

The committee’s two Democrats — Lena Taylor and Fred Risser — sent a letter to Chairman Van Wanggaard on Wednesday, December 16th requesting a hearing on allegations of abuse at the Copper Lake/Lincoln Hills School in Irma.

Word broke last week that the Wisconsin Department of Justice has been investigating allegations of sexual and physical assaults of youth and evidence tampering since January. The FBI has also joined the probe.

Wanggaard issued a statement saying he won’t hold a hearing because it could jeopardize the investigation. He promised to continue watching the situation closely.

The complete statement from Wanggaard is as follows:

“I think all of us in the Legislature are concerned about the allegations coming out of the Lincoln Hills juvenile correctional facility. Abuse has no place in our criminal justice system, or in our prisons.

Over the last week, I have spoken with and met with several Department of Corrections officials, including Secretary Ed Wall, multiple times. I am confident that they are seeking to get to the bottom of the matter, are cooperating fully with the investigation, and that they have been forthright with myself and others.

It is important to remember that there is an ongoing investigation at Lincoln Hills. We are aware of a John Doe investigation, and internal investigations at the Department of Corrections and Department of Justice. I do not wish to hold a public hearing that could jeopardize those, or other, investigations. As the investigations move forward, I will to continue to follow the matter closely. I encourage other members of the Legislature to do so as well.”

READ IT: Letter from Taylor and Risser to Wanggaard.