State, ACLU in talks over Lin­coln Hills

Em­bat­tled teen prison faces mul­ti­ple law­suits for al­leged vi­o­la­tions

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - Milwaukee Wisconsin - Pa­trick Mar­ley Milwaukee Jour­nal Sen­tinel USA TO­DAY NET­WORK - WIS­CON­SIN

MADI­SON - With Gov. Scott Walker plan­ning to close Wis­con­sin’s teen prison, his ad­min­is­tra­tion is in set­tle­ment talks with the at­tor­neys for ju­ve­nile in­mates who have sued over con­di­tions there.

“In light of this de­vel­op­ment, the par­ties sub­mit this re­port to in­form the court that, at this junc­ture, the par­ties are con­tin­u­ing to ac­tively ne­go­ti­ate a po­ten­tial set­tle­ment and still in­tend to pro­ceed with this case,” lawyers for the state and in­mates wrote in a court fil­ing Fri­day.

Teen in­mates rep­re­sented by the Amer­i­can Civil Lib­er­ties Union of Wis­con­sin and Ju­ve­nile Law Cen­ter sued state of­fi­cials a year ago over con­di­tions at Lin­coln Hills School for Boys and Cop­per Lake School for Girls, which share a cam­pus 30 miles north of Wausau.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge James Peter­son last sum­mer found in­mates’ rights were likely be­ing vi­o­lated and or­dered the state to greatly curb its use of soli­tary con­fine­ment and pep­per spray.

Separately, the prison has been un­der a crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion for three years. Last month, fed­eral pros­e­cu­tors no­ti­fied two for­mer guards they could be charged over al­le­ga­tions they broke a 16-year-old in­mate’s arm and left him naked in a cell with­out pro­vid­ing ad­e­quate med­i­cal at­ten­tion.

The GOP gov­er­nor last week said he plans to close the fa­cil­ity and con­vert it to an adult prison if he is re-elected this fall. Un­der his $80 mil­lion plan, the state would build five teen lock­ups around the state and a mental health fa­cil­ity for in­car­cer­ated girls on the grounds of Men­dota Ju­ve­nile Treat­ment Cen­ter in Madi­son.

That prompted Fri­day’s short fil­ing re­gard­ing set­tle­ment talks.

If a set­tle­ment isn’t reached, a trial is sched­uled for Novem­ber, three weeks af­ter Walker stands for re-elec­tion.

Other law­suits have been filed over the prison that Walker will have to deal with as he cam­paigns.

In Au­gust, a law­suit brought by a Cop­per Lake in­mate is slated to go to trial. The in­mate was se­verely brain dam­aged af­ter she at­tempted sui­cide there and she is su­ing the state to help cover the mil­lions of dol­lars in care she will re­quire for the rest of her life.

An­other trial is slated for Oc­to­ber — just a month be­fore the elec­tion — in­volv­ing an in­mate who al­leges guards pep­per sprayed him, body slammed him and put him alone in a cell that reeked of urine and fe­ces for at least four days.

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