The Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance has pulled the plug, on plans to fully replace the state’s troubled Lincoln Hills youth corrections facility in northern Wisconsin.

During committee deliberations on Wednesday, Representative Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) said that the plan to create smaller, regional youth jails will be a stopgap. “Lincoln Hills and our current juvenile justice system wasn’t created overnight,” Born said. “We have money in the budget to move forward with it (smaller facilities) if the governor chooses to bring that before the building commission.”

Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) was incensed by the cancellation. “I’ve been working on this issue for years. So I’m not going to apologize for being emotional, for being loud, for being angry.”

Goyke said that time is of the essence to replace Lincoln Hills. “The next budget, the time we would be able to appropriate dollars to build type 1 facilities to bring the closure of Lincoln Hills, is like the day before that facility is to close under the law.”

Under current state law, officials have to close Lincoln Hills by the middle of 2021. Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr said it is very unlikely the youth prison will close on time according to the law. Republicans said local governments in both locations where the full jails were planned, in Milwaukee and Hortonia, objected to the construction of prisons in their communities.

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