Lin­coln Hills teacher hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter punch to face by teen in­mate

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - NEWS - PA­TRICK MAR­LEY

MADI­SON - A teacher at Wis­con­sin’s ju­ve­nile prison was sent to the hospi­tal af­ter an in­mate punched her in the face.

The Wed­nes­day as­sault of the long-time teacher — a wo­man who is un­der 5 feet tall — came the same day at­tor­neys for the state told a fed­eral judge they had had trou­ble fully com­ply­ing with his or­der to over­haul Lin­coln Hills School for Boys be­cause of “sig­nif­i­cant un­rest” at the fa­cil­ity.

“Our thoughts are with the em­ployee as they re­cu­per­ate,” Depart­ment of Cor­rec­tions spokesman Tris­tan Cook said in a state­ment. “We are in­cred­i­bly grate­ful to staff and their fam­i­lies as they work to make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence in the lives of youth in DOC cus­tody.”

Cook did not pro­vide other de­tails other than to say the em­ployee was in­jured by an in­mate and sent to a hospi­tal. Oth­ers fa­mil­iar with the in­ci­dent said the in­mate hit the teacher in the face and she re­mained in the hospi­tal Thurs­day evening.

Pho­tos cir­cu­lat­ing on so­cial me­dia showed the teacher in a hospi­tal bed with a swollen eye that was black and pur­ple with bruis­ing. The Mil­wau­kee Jour­nal Sen­tinel is not pub­lish­ing the pho­tos be­cause it does not have per­mis­sion to use them.

A friend and for­mer co­worker said the wo­man could have been killed in the in­ci­dent.

“She’s a tough wo­man,” said the friend, who asked not to be named. “Emo­tion­ally, she’s torn up.”

The in­mate was in­volved in an­other re­cent at­tack in which a staff mem­ber had a tooth knocked out, ac­cord­ing to sources fa­mil­iar with the lat­est in­ci­dent. They said the in­mate was 16 or 17 years old.

The Lin­coln County Sher­iff’s Of­fice is in­ves­ti­gat­ing.

Lin­coln Hills and its sis­ter fa­cil­ity, Cop­per Lake School for Girls, have been un­der a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion for pris­oner abuse and child ne­glect for nearly three years. The fa­cil­i­ties share a cam­pus 30 miles north of Wausau.

In­mates sued over con­di­tions at the prison in Jan­uary and U.S. District Judge James Peter­son this sum­mer or­dered the state to curb the use of hand­cuffs, soli­tary con­fine­ment and pep­per spray at the fa­cil­ity.

At­tor­neys for the state on Wed­nes­day sub­mit­ted a re­port to the court say­ing they had made gains in com­ply­ing with his or­ders but had not been able to do ev­ery­thing they hoped be­cause of un­rest at Lin­coln Hills.

Lin­coln Hills staff con­tend the judge’s or­ders have made con­di­tions worse at the prison be­cause it has em­bold­ened in­mates to be ag­gres­sive and given prison of­fi­cials fewer ways to pun­ish in­mates. Ad­vo­cates for the in­mates say they are act­ing out only be­cause of the way they have been treated and the state should shut down the prison com­plex and hold in­mates in their own com­mu­ni­ties.

Cook said Lin­coln Hills is not less safe than it was be­fore the judge is­sued his in­junc­tion and staff have ef­fec­tive strate­gies to deal with ag­gres­sive be­hav­ior.

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