MILWAUKEE COUNTY -- Milwaukee County officials want to bring 170 juvenile offenders back from the Lincoln Hills School for Boys/Copper Lake School for Girls, under investigation for alleged abuse, and place those offenders locally. There are some who aren't happy with that plan.
A large group of Milwaukee County mayors and village presidents are voicing concern.
This, after the Milwaukee County Board voted to approve $500,000 in emergency funding for an alternative to Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake. The unanimous vote on February 4th declared a state of emergency at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities.
Chief Judge Maxine White issued a letter to the County Board suggesting possible Milwaukee County sites for juvenile offenders.
One would be juvenile beds placed at the Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin.
Another would be an expansion of a juvenile program currently housed at the former child adolescent treatment center on the Milwaukee County grounds -- not far from the Milwaukee County Mental Health Complex. The mental health facility, considered outdated, is not itself under consideration to house the kids.
"These are felons, gun crimes. As Mayor Barrett points out -- carjackings, violent crimes," Franklin Mayor Steve Olson said.
Mayor Olson says the young offenders housed at Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake schools are the kind of criminals who may be too rough even for the House of Correction.
"For the County Board to jump in and say 'we'll take them back and put them wherever,' a 99% chance they think of the House of Correction, it's just not responsible," Mayor Olson said.
The plan to bring 170 juvenile offenders from Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake schools in Irma back to Milwaukee County isn't sitting well with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett either.
Mayor Barrett on Monday, February 8th told FOX6 News he is in favor of the juveniles being protected from possible abuse at the facility -- but a plan to move them back to Milwaukee County?
"I don't want the ramifications of that to affect public safety in Milwaukee and I'm very concerned about that," Mayor Barrett said.
FOX6 News has learned Milwaukee County's 19 mayors and village presidents met on Monday for their intergovernmental council. The Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake transfer was discussed.
"Juvenile criminals need to be treated humanely -- but they can't be shuffled around as political pawns and put into a facility that's just not prepared to handle them. It's wrong," Mayor Olson said.
Mayor Olson fears money the county is appropriating for this transfer won't be enough to make things work at a medium-security institution such as the House of Correction. He says the state should be responsible for improvements at Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake.
"It's not fair to the taxpayers, nor is it fair to the criminals," Mayor Olson said.
Right now, Olson says there are a lot of conversations ongoing between mayors, and they're working on a plan.
These mayors say they're not part of the planning process -- but their cities will be impacted by these young offenders coming back to Milwaukee County -- sentiment echoed by Mayor Barrett and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.