In response to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s suggestion that the state might assist Milwaukee County in building a new youth prison, Youth Justice Milwaukee released the following statement:
“Governor Walker’s openness to building a new juvenile corrections facility would be a huge step backwards and a misuse of public funds. While we agree that all adjudicated youth should remain in Milwaukee County, the state’s proposal to construct a new youth prison in Milwaukee County would be a setback to community-based approaches that have been proven to be the most effective ways to generate successful outcomes for system involved youth.
“It has been a year since the raid at Lincoln Hills and no one has been held accountable for the child abuse, sexual assaults and misconduct uncovered at the facility. Lincoln Hills represents the failed model of the past that we must not replicate. The recently released report by the National Institute of Justice and Harvard University, The Future of Youth Justice: A Community-Based Alternative to the Youth Prison Model, shows that the youth prison model is an abysmal failure as it doesn’t promote safety for youth or communities.
“A smarter, economically efficient, and more just approach would be to follow the lead of states that are closing youth prisons and investing in effective community-based alternatives to incarceration. Each year, Wisconsin spends a total $162,800,000 to upkeep its failing juvenile justice system, and at Lincoln Hills alone, the cost to incarcerate one youth surpassed $100,000 in 2013, and continued to rise. Instead, the county should redirect these funds to community-based treatment programs that provide more effective support, mentorship and supervision at every stage of the juvenile justice system in neighborhoods most impacted by youth crime and incarceration.
“Milwaukee has too many young people locked up that do not need to be. For the youth who pose a serious risk to public safety, there are already secure settings available in the county. Taxpayer dollars should go towards proven rehabilitative practices that increase public safety.
“We are calling on our local and state elected leaders to strongly and swiftly reject calls to build any new correctional facilities in Milwaukee County and instead, to invest any new state funding into community-based models that provide services and supports for youth and are proven to promote public safety.”
The statement should be attributed to the Youth Justice Milwaukee. See their full plan, Safer Communities, Stronger Families, here: http://www.urbanunderground.org/publications.
Youth Justice Milwaukee is a broad-based campaign advocating to create community-based, family-centered, restorative programs as an alternative to locking up children in Wisconsin’s youth prisons. Youth Justice Milwaukee represents a coalition of persons who were incarcerated as youth, families of youth who are or were incarcerated, service providers, and local and national youth justice advocates.