More restrictions and supervision are coming to Wisconsin’s troubled youth detention centers.
According to the Journal Sentinel, civil rights groups and the state have come to a settlement over a series of abuses against youth inmates at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake.
“While biggest step forward for youth is the closure of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, today’s settlement is also an important win,” said Jessica Feierman, Associate Director of Juvenile Law Center. “The agreement establishes crucial safeguards against the harms of solitary confinement, restraints, pepper spray, and strip searches.”
Under the proposed guidelines, solitary confinement will be banned, officers won’t use pepper spray on inmates, and restraints will only be used in extreme situations. Inmates also won’t be subject to strip searches without probable cause.
“This is a major step in the right direction for Wisconsin and the protection of children in the custody of the state,” said Timothy Muth, staff attorney of ACLU of Wisconsin. “We hope this settlement and the closure of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake signals a larger shift in Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system toward an approach that recognizes the unique needs and vulnerabilities of youth and respects their constitutional rights. We’ll need to remain vigilant to ensure that shift comes to fruition.”
An outside auditor will also come in to inspect the schools on a regular basis.
The new changes will also affect a series of newly proposed youth facilities.