Closing Lincoln Hills brings juvenile offenders closer to home

Gov. Scott Walker announced plans to close a troubled juvenile correction facility Lincoln Hills and Cooper Lake Thursday, opting instead for smaller facilities spread across the state.

"I feel as if it is long overdue," said Termaine Roberson.

Roberson spent time at Lincoln Hills three years ago. The facility was subject to a federal investigation over claims of child abuse and neglect, driving groups like Youth Justice Milwaukee to form.

"We have heard some very horrific stories of how young people's toes were amputated," said Sharlen Moore of Youth Justice Milwaukee. 

Roberson said his experience made it harder to break old habits that lead him to crime. 

"It was more of the same bad influences on the outside that were on the inside," Roberson said.

Roberson had almost no family support and the one person who could visit him, his grandmother, was more than three hours away in Milwaukee. She only visited once.

Moore said regional facilities will mean families are closer and will ultimately help the crime rate.

"If we look at statistics more young people recidivate, meaning they go back into the system when they aren't connected with their families, where they aren't in their communities where they have people who are going to love and support them," Moore said.

After Roberson's release, he graduated high school and is now getting technical training.

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