Rep. Goyke, Sen. Larson take on juvenile justice in new legislation


MADISON – The atrocities occurring in the juvenile correctional facilities in Wisconsin, have been well-documented. A lawsuit, recently filed by the ACLU of Wisconsin, is challenging the use of solitary confinement at Wisconsin juvenile correctional facilities; Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls.

These facilities are located nearly 200 miles from Milwaukee, where most of the youth are from. Now two lawmakers from Milwaukee are hoping that Wisconsin adopts a new model of juvenile justice reform.

Today Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) and Senator Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee) introduced bi-partisan legislation requiring the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to study and report on the implementation of the “Missouri Model” of incarcerating juveniles.

Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee)
Sen. Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee)

The “Missouri Model” emphasizes utilizing smaller facilities closer to home for jailed youth.

“Our current model of incarcerating children does not work. One large institution, hours away from the State’s largest population center, has led to unacceptable outcomes and unsustainable costs. The cost of incarcerating a child at Lincoln Hills is enormous. The recidivism rate for incarcerated youth is alarmingly high,” said Rep. Goyke.

“The adoption of a new model will increase community and facility safety and decrease recidivism by creating a better secure environment for jailed children in Wisconsin,” Goyke added.

Following the bill’s introduction, Sen. Larson said, “It is crucial that Wisconsin invest in policies that help each of our children have a successful future, including when young people in our community encounter the justice system. Traditional correctional programs often cause further harm, diminishing the chance of success for our youth. For safer, healthier families and communities, Wisconsin must change its culture of corrections.”

The legislation is now referred to a legislative standing committee for consideration.