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“We have heard absolutely nothing:” State senator wants answers about abuse allegations at Lincoln Hills

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MILWAUKEE -- A state lawmaker wants an update from the FBI about its investigation into abuse allegations at Lincoln Hill School for Boys, Wisconsin's youth prison.

Since the allegations first surfaced in late 2015, there has been a large drop in the number of youth sent to Lincoln Hills. Milwaukee County officials confirmed judges are steering youth away from there.

State Sen. Van Wanggaard

State Sen. Van Wanggaard

One state senator said he would like to push for change but needs to know what's happening first.

"We have heard absolutely nothing," said Sen. Van Wanggaard. "Us just knowing where they're at -- and there's some light at the end of the tunnel -- helps us to identify what we need to do."

Wanggaard said he does not wish to interfere with the ongoing investigation. However, he said the investigation into then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's use of a private server is proof the FBI is capable of sharing at least some information about open cases.

"Look at what (FBI Director James) Comey did," Wanggaard said, "So we know, on a national level, they do do that."

At the time the abuse accusations first surfaced in late 2015, state records show 228 teens were detained at Lincoln Hills. The most recent numbers show the population is 153 -- a 30 percent drop-off.


"Yeah, it has very much to do with judges who are understandably concerned about sending placements to an institution where, generally speaking, when they read about it, it isn't good news," said Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele

Abele said judges were already avoiding Lincoln Hills placements -- noting there were 35 percent fewer Lincoln Hills sentences in Milwaukee County juvenile courts between 2011 and 2015.

Some in local law enforcement have said if violent offenders are not going to Lincoln Hills and there isn't enough room to house them locally, the public is put at greater risk.

"You have kids who are super bad actors. I mean, what do you do with them?," Wanggaard said.

Lincoln Hills School

Lincoln Hills School

"No judge, no DA, no public defender, no part of the criminal justice system, no part of delinquency and juvenile on our side, or will we ever, do anything that's going to increase risk," Abele said.

Wanggaard said he wants to offer a solution, but wants an update from the feds first.

"Just saying 'yeah, we're working on it' -- that's not a good answer," Wanggaard said.

Lincoln Hills School

Lincoln Hills School

FOX6 News did reach out to the local FBI office for a response. We have yet to hear back.

Abele said he would like a secure youth facility built in Milwaukee County that provides treatment that is lacking at Lincoln Hills. But he says the state would need to approve -- and help fund such a project.

"A local facility where we deal with the youth that need to be in a secure facility but with much more programming: trauma-informed, person-centered, individualized, and recovery-oriented," Abele said.

Milwaukee County says 55 youth are currently committed at Lincoln Hills. Another seven teens are currently at Copper Lake School for Girls.


  • Opinion8d

    I think the risk to the community far outweighs any ‘risk’ that this monsters face at Lincoln Hills. Most could use a good #$$ beating!!!

  • Huh !

    Has anyone ever asked the residents, corrections officers and family court judges of Milwaukee what would be appropriate discipline for a non-compliant juvenile offender ? Have them get together with the parents of the inmate and the victims ! We all know that…..It’s cruel and unusual punishment (abuse) to take candy from a baby now days !!!

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