Members of the state Assembly have unveiled a bipartisan plan to overhaul the state’s juvenile corrections system.
The bill includes aspects of a plan the governor called for last month in his State of the State Address, and would close the state’s troubled Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons by July of 2020.
State Representative Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) says most young offenders would be housed at county-based facilities, while more serious cases would go to state-run locations. The bill calls for providing grants to local governments that either open their own secure location, or that work with other nearby counties to create a facility.
Democratic state Representative David Bowen of Milwaukee says it makes needed changes to how young offenders are treated, and will also save counties like his money. “There are millions of dollars that will be able to be saved at the county level,” he said, noting that Milwaukee County has the majority of offenders currently housed at the state’s youth prisons.
Backers say they have been working with the governor’s office and Senate Republicans, but neither have publicly supported the proposal. A spokeswoman for Governor Scott Walker said his administration is willing to continue working with the Legislature on the issue.