Lawmakers push bipartisan bill to address youth prison

Jail generic

Lawmakers have launched a bipartisan effort to push the first bill addressing child abuse allegations at Wisconsin’s troubled youth prison through the Legislature after a year of inaction.

Republican state Rep. Joel Kleefisch and Democratic Sen. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee introduced a bill this week that would make guards at the prison mandatory child abuse reporters. If they fail to report abuse to child welfare workers or police they would face up to six months in jail.

Word broke in December 2015 that state agents were investigating allegations of widespread abuse at the prison in Irma. The FBI has since taken over the probe.

Democrats introduced bills last session that would have created changes at the prison but they went nowhere in the Republican-controlled Legislature.