Friday, May 7, 2010

Juvenile Correctional Schools Under Review

Governor appoints public committee to look at future of juvenile correctional schools

On April 8, Governor Doyle announced he was appointing a “Juvenile Corrections Review Committee” whose mission is to “formulate a committee recommendation for the Governor regarding the best correctional environment for delinquent youth which will enable them to learn, grow and change their behavior for successful community integration.”

The committee will hold its third meeting May 7 on site at Lincoln Hills School for Boys near Merrill in northern Wisconsin. The committee, which toured Ethan Allen last week, is comprised of public members, including four judges, two ministers, a therapist, a county human service manager, a retired educator, the director of Rawhide Boys Ranch, and a representative of the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families. There are no legislators or union representatives on the committee.

AFSCME has been working with lawmakers and advocates for some time to call attention to the larger issues surrounding juvenile offenders. The central problem is how Wisconsin pays for services for teens that run afoul of the law, and how it treats those who are over 17. Generally, teens 17 and over who commit serious crimes are sent into the adult system, and the bill is paid by the state. Offenders under age 17 are handled by the juvenile courts, which have an array of options to deal with teens, including sending them to the three juvenile schools. If kids are sent to the schools, counties pay the price - $279 per day, or more than $100,000 per year.

AFSCME will continue to work with the DOC and committee members and urge them to look at how Wisconsin can do better to address the overwhelming needs of teen offenders, whether in the community or in the state juvenile schools. We will challenge the committee to look at the funding issues, which are at the core of the decline in the school populations, and urge the committee to take a stand in favor of raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction from 16 to 17.

Source: AFSCME C24 UIN 05/07/2010