By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Scott Walker was skewered by the mainstream media and Democrats for the unsafe conditions at Wisconsin’s troubled prisons for serious juvenile offenders. The former Republican governor wants to know where those same critics are now that Lincoln Hills School for Boys has become an even more dangerous place on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ watch.
As Empower Wisconsin reported last month, incidents of violence, particularly injuries to staff, exploded in 2020, according to the union that represents employees at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake School for Girls.
Evers campaigned on shutting down the prisons, castigating Walker for the screaming headlines on Lincoln Hills.
“Executive experience is a critical issue in this governor’s race — and to being governor. You only need to point to Lincoln Hills as an example. How the hell did that happen?” Evers said in launching his bid for governor in 2017.
But Walker and Republican legislators worked across the aisle with Democrats to come up with a plan to close the youth prisons and build updated security centers. It passed the Legislature with bi-partisan support, and Walker signed it. Meanwhile, Walker worked to secure the youth offender prisons he and his administration were responsible for, facilities that had their share of troubles long before Walker became governor in 2011.
In the 2 1/2 years Evers has been in office, conditions at Lincoln Hills in particular have deteriorated. And he has sought to push back the closing of the institutions. The union that represents staff members reported that last year:
* Sexual misconduct incidents soared 75 percent at Lincoln Hills.
* Youth-staff battery increased 177 percent.
* Group disturbances up 158 percent.
* Staff injuries up an astounding 4,700 percent.
* Staff vacancy rates are at 32 percent
Yet, the same media outlets that breathlessly reported on the youth prison problems during Walker’s tenure have been strangely silent about the violence and disorder happening under Evers’ leadership.
Walker said that fact only exposes the fraud that is Wisconsin’s mainstream media.
“They have totally dropped the ball on this issue,” the former governor said. “And it’s very revealing to me, so many TV reporters, newspaper reporters, the few editorial boards that are left in this state that made it a big deal many, many years ago, have completely ignored it now.”
“It’s an absolute disgrace.”