Lawmakers call for swift action on prisons

Lawmakers call for swift action on prisons

Two members of the Wisconsin Assembly’s Corrections Committee say Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to create new regional juvenile prisons in the state can be done more quickly than he proposed.

Republican Rep. Joel Kleefisch and Democratic Rep. David Bowen issued a joint statement Friday embracing Walker’s reorganization plan but calling for swifter action. Walker on Thursday proposed converting the Lincoln Hills juvenile prison into an adult facility and opening five new regional juvenile prisons.

Walker’s plan calls for seeking the $80 million in funding in 2019.

Kleefisch and Bowen say “we believe it could be accelerated so our shared vision for safety and rehabilitation is achieved more urgently.”

They say bills already introduced could be used to implement Walker’s plan and be passed by the Legislature this year.

Prison experts see opportunity, problems with Walker plan

Juvenile justice experts see promise in Gov. Scott Walker’s reorganization plan that would convert the Lincoln Hills youth prison into an adult facility.

But they also caution that the success of smaller, regional juvenile prisons depends on how well the changes are implemented.

Walker on Thursday announced he wants to spend $80 million on five new regional juvenile prisons and a larger mental health facility for girls in Madison. The plan calls for legislative approval in 2019, but Walker says he’s open to moving faster.

Jeffrey Butts is the director of the Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He says nothing in Walker’s plan ensures Wisconsin will have an effective approach.

Butts says “poor implementation and ineffective management can ruin the best of plans.”