Today, the third report from the monitor appointed to oversee the settlement agreement at the troubled Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons was filed in federal court. 

The report details significant improvements within the two facilities. Some of the key terms of the settlement where improvements have been made include the following:

  • Improved interactions between staff and youth
  • Increased programming options for the young people
  • Reduction in the use of strip searches
  • Some overall reductions in the use of room confinement, pepper spray and mechanical restraints

“We are happy that there are some improvements in how children in the custody of the state are being treated,” said Karyn Rotker staff attorney of ACLU of Wisconsin. “The monitor’s report outlines some steps in the right direction for the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities, and we continue to remain vigilant to ensure the lives of these children are improved.”

While some improvements have been made there are still significant changes needed to comply with the settlement agreement. 

“We are still concerned about too much room confinement, and some recent increases in pepper spray and restraint use. There also is more work to be done to train staff to de-escalate problem situations and to properly document the actions the facilities are taking,” Rotker added. “Also, especially given continued staffing deficiencies – especially for teachers, where more than 40% of the positions are vacant – we strongly agree with the statement in the report that the Department of Corrections needs to find ways to start moving youth out of these facilities and back into their home communities.” 


The ACLU of Wisconsin is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 13,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our  About Us page of this website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and Instagram.