Bill would close youth prison in 2020, create new facilities

Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake School in Lincoln County is seen, Dec. 14, 2017. (WLUK/Mark Leland)

MADISON (AP) -- The state Assembly has crafted a bill that calls for closing Wisconsin's troubled youth prison and moving its inmates into new state and county facilities.

Republican Speaker Robin Vos introduced the bill Tuesday at a news conference flanked by a bipartisan group of lawmakers. The measure calls for closing the existing prison in Irma by mid-2020. Federal investigators have spent the last three years probing allegations of guards abusing inmates at the facility.


Serious offenders would move to new or existing state facilities. Counties would house the rest in new or retrofitted facilities. Counties could apply for state grants to help with construction.

The bill's fate is unclear. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says passing the measure would be a "heavy lift" before the legislative session ends in March.

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