Walker signs bill to close troubled Wisconsin youth prison

MILWAUKEE (AP) -- Gov. Scott Walker has signed legislation to close a troubled youth prison in Wisconsin and authorize funding for new facilities across the state.

Walker signed the bill in Milwaukee on Friday. The legislation allow the state to borrow $80 million for building facilities to house juvenile offenders when the Lincoln Hills prison shuts down by 2021. Counties willing to accommodate the less serious offenders will receive some of the funding.

"This is not something that just happened out of the blue," Walker said. "A number of lawmakers, our secretaries in both corrections and department of health services have all been working on this for more than a year."

Juvenile justice advocates like Sharlen Moore with Youth Justice Milwaukee and the American Civil Liberties Union in Wisconsin hope the money is also used for services and programs as alternatives to incarceration.

The prison located about a three-hour drive from Milwaukee has been the target of guard-on-prisoner allegations for years.

"We’re talking about saving dollars in the long run because right now we’re spending over $140,000 per student and those numbers should be a lot less in the future," said state Rep. David Bowen. 

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