An investigation at the Lincoln Hills School, the state’s juvenile detention center, is looking into the alleged mistreatment of juvenile offenders.
The state Department of Corrections said Monday it was recently briefed on the findings of a state Department of Justice investigation, which expressed a concern that there was a “culture” at the Lincoln County facilities where some staff may have put youth at risk for harm. On top of that, officials detailed a recent incident in which a youth was assaulted by a staff member and sustained serious physical injury due to the actions of a youth counselor.
Concerns about safety have prompted changes in leadership at the facility. The DOC said Secretary Edward Wall appointed a new Administrator of the Division of Juvenile Corrections, replacing Paul Westerhaus, and a new Superintendent of Copper Lake and Lincoln Hills Schools in Irma, replacing Superintendent John Ourada. Additional administration has been assigned the Irma facility to help the new team evaluate further issues.
Wall stressed they have a critical role in providing public safety and assuring the safe, secure and humane treatment of those in custody. In a statement, he said, “The serious nature of the issues at CL/LHS demands our full and undivided attention and no efforts will be spared in making sure that we deliver on our mission.”
The ongoing investigation actually started late last year after the Office of the Secretary for the Department of Corrections became aware of possible mistreatment of youth by a small number of security staff at the Copper Lake School and Lincoln Hills School. That investigation was turned over to the Department of Justice for even more review.
No further details about individual alleged abuses have been released.
Contributed by WSAU