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Report: Conditions worsening at Wisconsin juvenile prison

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Conditions are worsening at Wisconsin’s juvenile prisons, in part due to challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the latest report from a court-ordered monitor determined.

Exhausted guards are more likely to restrain inmates at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, monitor Teresa Abreu said in the report released Monday. She also found that inmates aren’t receiving enough programming and staff members fear for their safety, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Although the use of restraints is higher than it should be, staff have cut back on the use of isolating teens to their rooms. Nearly all recent room confinements were ended in under eight hours, the report found.

The prison facility is in Alma, about 30 miles north of Wausau. The Legislature passed a law requiring the campus to shut down by July, but lawmakers and Gov. Tony Evers have said they will miss that deadline and have no firm timeline for building the smaller facilities to house young offenders.

The ACLU and Juvenile Law Center, which sued the state over conditions at Lincoln Hills in 2017, renewed their call in the wake of the latest report for it to be shut down.

Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr said he is eager to close Lincoln Hills when possible and his team will work to make improvements at the facility in the meantime.

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