Governor Doyle is weighing various options to close a budget deficit in the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections. At the final meeting, on June 21, the Governor’s Juvenile Corrections Review Committee was unable to advance a recommendation as to the closure of Lincoln Hills School or Ethan Allen School even with the 5 to 3 vote in favor of keeping LHS open. To read a copy of the committee’s report, contact the governor’s office.
LHS was created for public safety purposes. The secured institution houses approximately 160 juvenile offenders, ages 10 to 25, which are sent from counties throughout the state. The majority of these incarcerated juveniles are felons. Wisconsin citizens are generally not aware of the extent of the services LHS provides. For example, LHS provides a North Central Technical College-Educational Talent Search program (federal trio grant), a U.S. Dept. of Labor-Workforce Connections/Expanded Opportunities Program, a clergy volunteer for individual counseling and who conducts additional chapel services, a Foster Grandparent Program-in conjunction with Federal National Service Program for Seniors (20-25 volunteers who come to the institution daily to provide tutoring, reading, and mentoring services), a UW-Stevens Point Poetry Project (publication twice per year, “Rising Voices”), Family Services of Green Bay, CESA #9-training and special education services, Victim Impact Program (VIP), Juvenile Cognitive Intervention Program (JCIP), Alcohol & Other Drug Abuse (AODA), just to name a few services.
Also, LHS offers a Cadet Achievement Program (CAP) including providing services to local homeless shelters and assisted living centers, a greenhouse service project, and a summer camp for youth with special needs. CAP students speak at local public schools, community service clean-up and maintenance at Council Grounds State Park, the Ice Age Trail, roadside clean-up, clean-up proceeding the Muscular Dystrophy Harley ride, clean-up & maintenance at Birch Trails Girl Scout Camp, paint and do maintenance at MARC Center, at Treehaven for trial maintenance, invasive species removal, roadside clearing, and beatification. There is also a CAP Environmental Literacy Initiative: Treehaven & UW??¢????????Stevens Point, DNR, and Urban Gardeners of Milwaukee & Troy Gardens in Madison who the CAP program contributes to.
An affirmation to the level that LHS teaches students empathy is in the fact that our students provided over $1,400 to Hope for Haiti, continuously raise donations for local food pantries, provide donations for the Humane Society, make home-made blankets for terminally ill infants at Marshfield Clinic, and sell handmade wreathes and table decorations with profits going to local families in need.
LHS provides an opportunity for these male juveniles to receive an education, treatment, and participate in rehabilitation: thus helping them turn their lives around so they do not end up continuing to jeopardize the safety of our communities, end up in adult prison, and continuing to be a burden to tax payers. For Fiscal Year 2010 LHS had 75 HSED graduates and 3 high school graduates with a total of 78 graduates.
Our school is a positive force keeping our communities safer while providing treatment and rehabilitation to juveniles who need their lives turned around. While of course, the negative economic impact and overall fiscal repercussions of losing approximately 200 jobs in our community will be devastating to this area, it will also affect the services currently being provided statewide. The staff at LHS would be very appreciative for anything you can do as citizens and elected representatives to keep our school open. Please let Governor Doyle know!
In conclusion, even though there were concerns coming from southeastern Wisconsin regarding family visitation, the Juvenile Correction Review Committee did not find that visitation for youth placed at EAS vs. LHS to be a determining factor in overall family visits. A bus service is provided from Milwaukee to Madison to LHS for family who want to visit their children.
The employees at LHS would like to thank our local citizens as well as our representatives including Rep. Donna Seidel, Sen. Russ Decker, Sen. Jim Holperin, Jay Schmelling (candidate for the 35th District), Robert Lee (Tomahawk Mayor), Bill Bialecki (Merrill Mayor), Bill Brandt (Antigo Mayor), and local council members along with Jerry Whitburn. We also want to thank the members of the Governor’s Juvenile Review Committee including Jim Mosser, John Burmaster, John Solberg, Mark Martens, and Judge Wendell Askenette who recognized that LHS is the better facility and that we play an important role in the juvenile justice system.
LHS looks forward to your on going support, both at a community and government level. Thank you for taking the time to read this editorial.