Judge orders reduction in solitary confinement at Lincoln Hills

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MADISON- On Monday, a federal judge issued an injunction requiring officials at Wisconsin’s juvenile prison to reduce their use of solitary confinement on inmates. Effective July 21, teens at Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls will now face a maximum of seven days in solitary confinement. The current maximum is 60 days.

This injunction follows last month’s ruling that teen inmates at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake were likely having their constitutional rights violated by officials at the prison. Several lawsuits have been filed over the prison, and the FBI is currently conducting an investigation into potential charges of prisoner abuse and child neglect at the prison.

Patrick Marley at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports:

A federal judge on Monday issued a broad injunction requiring the state to drastically reduce the use of solitary confinement and pepper spray at Wisconsin’s juvenile prison complex.

Starting July 21, teen inmates can be punished with solitary confinement for a maximum of seven days — down from the current maximum of 60. Guards will be allowed to use pepper spray only to stop or prevent inmates from harming others.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson wrote in his order that the “provisions will drastically reduce the use of punitive restrictive housing, chemical agents and mechanical restraints.”

Peterson last month found teen inmates’ constitutional rights were likely being violated at Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, which share a campus 30 miles north of Wausau.

He followed that up Monday with his detailed order, which he entered after reviewing proposals submitted to him Friday by lawyers for teen inmates and the Department of Corrections. The inmates sued department officials in January with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Juvenile Law Center.

Read more at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.