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Wisconsin ends solitary confinement for kids

By the ACLU

We did it! We’re stopping solitary confinement for kids in Wisconsin. Courageous young people who were being held at the youth prison in Wisconsin, represented by the ACLU of Wisconsin, Juvenile Law Center, and the law firm Quarles & Brady, sued last year to stop harmful, punitive tactics like solitary confinement and pepper spray. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has agreed to settle the case.

You might have already heard that the state legislature has made plans to close Wisconsin’s infamous Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons, but our breakthrough still matters. It will take years to close these facilities, and we need to protect these children now — and work to make sure those harmful practices don’t come back in the future.

Until we brought our case, Wisconsin was one of the worst states in terms of how it treated youth in its prisons — with just about the most extensive use of solitary confinement. In the settlement, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections has agreed to:

  1. Stop using punitive solitary confinement within 10 months of when the court approves the settlement and establish strict limits on other use of solitary confinement.
  2. Phase out the use of pepper spray.
  3. Place strict limits on handcuffing youth and use of other restraints, like belly chains, and end cuffing youth to objects like tables. The use of these restraints will be the exception, not the rule.
  4. Prohibit strip searches without specific, individualized justification.
  5. Provide de-escalation training to all staff in the facilities.
  6. Ensure that the prison meets the terms of this agreement through outside monitoring, inspection, and youth interviews.

Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake should give young people who have made mistakes a chance to learn, overcome, and become productive members of society. This settlement agreement takes a step in the right direction.
Learn more about this settlement agreement on our website

Thank you for supporting the ACLU of Wisconsin. We do this work to end excessive and extreme punishments, and to make us safer by taking a smarter approach to justice.
Chris Ott
Executive Director
ACLU of Wisconsin

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on June 01, 2018, at 05:58 PM

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