MILWAUKEE – Youth Justice Milwaukee co-founders Sharlen Moore and Jeffery Roman released the following statement after the Wisconsin State Assembly passed a bill that would close the terrible Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison, yet allow counties to build their own youth prisons:
“Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake needs to close – there is no doubt about that. But in its place, we must invest in rehabilitative community programs, not more of the same expensive, abusive, and ineffective facilities run by the Department of Corrections. Youth Justice Milwaukee cannot support the Assembly’s bill as passed and we are calling on our leaders in the Senate to take immediate action in collaboration with directly impacted communities and improve it.
“The state should be investing in research-proven, community-based programs like intensive rehabilitation, mentoring, education, job training, community services, and programs that provide youth the opportunity to repair harm to victims and communities. Instead, the state is suggesting a $40 million grant program for counties that will encourage the construction of additional secure placements for youth rather than alternatives outside of the facilities. At the same time, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections – despite its repeated failure to address the abuse happening in Lincoln Hills and to protect our young people – will receive an additional $25 million to build new youth prisons and repeat its past mistakes.
“A bill to fix our juvenile justice system is long overdue. But developing real and lasting solutions requires bringing affected communities to the table and listening to what they need, not what the DOC and officials think they need. We need to invest in more programs to help young people be successful, not more youth prisons. We hope lawmakers in the Wisconsin Senate will act quickly to improve this bill so that we can create a safer and stronger Wisconsin for everyone.”
Youth Justice Milwaukee is a broad-based campaign advocating for community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to locking up children in Wisconsin’s youth prisons. Youth Justice Milwaukee represents a coalition of persons who were incarcerated as youth, families of youth who are or were incarcerated, service providers, and local and national youth justice advocates.