State not in compliance with youth prison order
MADISON, Wis. — The Latest on Wisconsin youth prison investigation, lawsuit (all times local):
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration says it has made “significant progress” in meeting a federal court order to make broad changes in Wisconsin’s youth prisons.
But a state attorney said in a court filing Tuesday that “significant unrest” at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons since the court order in June made it impossible to immediately comply.
The use of pepper spray at the prisons has actually risen since U.S. District Judge James Peterson ordered the state in June to reduce its use. Pepper spray was deployed 10 times in June, but 27 times in July and 36 times in August.
The prisons for boys and girls are located in Irma, north of Wausau, and are the subject of an ongoing criminal investigation into prison abuse and child neglect.
The leaders of an internal affairs unit in the Wisconsin prison system say changes into what they investigate were ordered because they had done too good a job exposing problems at the state’s troubled juvenile prison.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday that a state Department of Corrections official disagreed, saying the decision to close the unit was unrelated to the internal investigation into Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls.
The department’s Office of Special Operations 2014 review of the juvenile prisons uncovered extensive problems that grew into a criminal investigation that has been ongoing for nearly three years.
Gov. Scott Walker’s administration shut down the office in June, saying the move would allow it to concentrate on investigating and preventing sexual assault behind bars.