The head of the union representing state corrections staff in Wisconsin says concerns have been mounting for some time. AFSCME Council 32 Executive Director Rick Badger said union members at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys were raising concerns well before Saturday’s sweep by outside law enforcement officers and investigators, in response to reports that juviniles housed there have been assaulted.
“These are safety issues that were definately made clear to the folks in charge, and so far at least, it looks like the secretary said he was not aware of these concerns,” Badger said. “For the past four years, we’ve been raising red flags, not just at Lincoln Hills but throughout the corrections system, that there are some real problems going on.”
The Lincoln Hills superintendent and the administrator of juvenile corrections for the state are now gone, but Badger believes it will take more than that to improve conditions within the Department of Corrections. “There’s been a real chilling effect of having employees bring up problems. Act 10 stripped employees of a lot of protections.
Badger said the corrections agency is plagued by high turnover, maintaining that it is now harder to attract and retain new employees as well as long-time staff.