New youth prison could be built in Fox Valley

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

    (WLUK) – A state study panel is recommending an Outagamie County site as one of two top choices for a new juvenile prison to replace the troubled Lincoln Hills facility.

    The Juvenile Corrections Study Committee was formed after the Legislature and Gov. Scott Walker approved a law to open new facilities by Jan. 1, 2021.

    The panel ranked two sets of sites: some in southeastern Wisconsin, and then those across the rest of the state.

    For those outside the Milwaukee metro area, the top-ranked site is near Highway 15 and U.S. 45 in Hortonia, near New London. Another location that the panel recommended get further study is in the Winnebago County town of Winchester, near the U.S. 10/45 interchange.

    One of the locations under consideration was at the Veterans Home at King, in Waupaca County, but that was eliminated from consideration at this time.

    The recommendations now get forwarded to the Department of Corrections for review. No final decisions on which sites will be selected have been made.

    In terms of what the new facilities will include, the committee listed about two dozen attributes with “a focus to move away from a correctional-looking setting and introduce something more inviting and welcoming,” according to the meeting minutes. Those items include:

    • Most of the rooms would be single and dry. Some of them could have double occupancy
    • Operational capacity is 80 percent of the full capacity. If the department plans for 32 youth in the facility, they should have at least 40 beds
    • Rooms will have windows that provide a lot of daylight
    • Fencing would be designed to remove the correctional look but still afford an appropriate amount of security.
    • There is space for family interaction
    • It is important to review the land that is being considered to ensure buffer space is sufficient

    The state has committed up to $80 million for the facilities.

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