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AG comments on closing youth prison, crime lab backlog, suing drug makers over opioids

MADISON, Wis. - Attorney General Brad Schimel says he would support closing the state's troubled youth prison if corrections officials could find another way to handle serious juvenile offenders.

Schimel said in an interview that Missouri's juvenile detention system has merit. That state places offenders in smaller facilities typically close to their homes.

Schimel says he's not sure that model would work in Wisconsin since most juvenile offenders are from Milwaukee. He says the real answer is to keep Milwaukee's children out of the system by addressing their needs early in life.

Schimel's DOJ began investigating allegations of widespread abuse at the prison outside Irma in 2015. The FBI has since taken over the probe. A federal judge this summer ordered guards to reduce the use of solitary confinement and pepper spray.

AG: Crime labs struggling with evidence backlog

Attorney General Brad Schimel says a backlog has developed again at the state crime labs.

Schimel told The Associated Press during a year-end interview that an influx of evidence submissions is to blame. He says submissions have increased 80 percent over the last two years.

His predecessor, J.B. Van Hollen, eliminated the backlog by hiring more analysts.

Schimel says the Department of Justice is more strictly enforcing submission guidelines and has created 11 temporary lab positions.

He says if things don't improve he'll ask lawmakers to let him hire more permanent analysts but he wants to try to solve the problem internally first.

AG defends holding off suing drug makers over opioids

Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel is defending his decision to hold off on suing drug companies over the country's opioid overdose epidemic.

Nearly 50 Wisconsin counties have filed a federal lawsuit alleging pharmaceutical companies precipitated the opioid problem by using deceptive marketing campaigns to sell prescription painkillers.

Schimel has promised opioids would be his top priority. Asked why the state Justice Department hasn't filed a similar lawsuit, he said he has joined a 41-state coalition that is investigating the companies and the role they may have played in creating the epidemic.

He says the coalition has broader discovery powers than the counties alone, helping it gather more information quickly. He pointed to an op-ed he wrote in November that said the investigation could yield a settlement without court delays.


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