Gov. Evers announces construction of new juvenile corrections facilities

MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) - Governor Tony Evers is announcing the construction of two new juvenile corrections facilities in Milwaukee and Hortonia, as part of plans to close the Lincoln Hills Youth Prison.

They plan to build the Milwaukee facility at the intersection of Teutonia and Mill Road, near Glendale. 7 Investigates asked the governor's office to specify which corner of that intersection will become the new site, but we have not heard back. There are existing structures on all corners, so there is also a question of whether the facility will be be a new build or addition to existing structures.

The second facility will be built in Hortonia, in Outagamie County. The Act 185 study committee recommended that facility be built near WI-15 and US-45. It is undeveloped land, so a facility will have to be built from scratch. 7 Investigates reached out to the governor's office to see if this river area will be use as part of the facility, as well as what kind of environmental impact there would be to the area, but we have not heard back.

The locations of both facilities were chosen to keep youth in the corrections system close to their families.

In a statement, Gov. Tony Evers says, "We are committed to getting kids out of Lincoln Hills and closer to home as soon as we safely and responsibly can."

Department of Corrections Secretary-designee Kevin Carr says, "Research shows that children in incarceration make significant strides toward positive change when they are closer to their communities and loved ones."

The Act 185 study committee originally proposed six possible locations, including:

1) Old Milwaukee-Northwest DMV: 7301 W. Mill Road, Milwaukee, WI
2) Southern Wisconsin Center: 21425 Spring Street, Union Grove, WI
3) Near WI-15 and US-45, Hortonia, Outagamie County
4) Appleton Metropolitan Statistical Area
5) (tied for 4th) Green Bay Metropolitan Statistical Area
6) Ethan Allen: W323 S1050 Boys School Road, Delafield, WI

7 Investigates reported extensively about the Act 185 committee when it was first formed.

The Juvenile Corrections Study Committee was formed out of Act 185, which is the law closing Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake Schools.

The committee was designed to come up with rules that will outline how juveniles will spend their time in prison, in particular services and programming, and where the most serious offenders will be housed.

In February, 7 Investigates obtained planning documents showing prototypes for facilities and possible locations. The documents state the site has to have at least seven acres of land: one for just the building, two for the recreation yard, and other four acres are allocated for things like parking, loading, and a buffer zone.

Each of the roughly 45,000 square foot facilities will house about 32 juveniles. The estimated cost to make these facilities a reality range between nearly $27-$30 million. The documents explained that building off of existing buildings could cut costs.

Gov. Evers expressed in his budget proposal that he wants to delay the closure of Lincoln Hills and add nearly $200 million more to the the budget to pay for the buildings, saying that would be required to make them a reality.

Gov. Evers also announced Tuesday the members of the grant committee charged with working with counties interested in creating secure youth residential centers, which are lower security level facilities than the type one facilities like Lincoln Hills. 7 Investigates asked the governor's office if any counties have shown interest, but we have not heard back.