Boys and Girls as Young as 14 are Being Held in Solitary Confinement, ACLU Finds

Molly Willms | Courthouse News Service

MADISON, Wis. (CN) – Juvenile offenders in Wisconsin claim in court that they are treated “like dogs, in cages” by guards who liberally use pepper spray without cause and are quick to resort to solitary confinement.

In a federal class-action lawsuit filed Monday in Madison, the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Juvenile Law Center claim that at least 15 to 20 percent of residents at Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls are locked in solitary confinement at any given time.




“The State of Wisconsin operates the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls, which incarcerate approximately 150-200 youth who are as young as 14 years old, in remote northern Wisconsin,” the complaint states. “The State routinely subjects these youth to unlawful solitary confinement, mechanical restraints and pepper spraying.”

The alleged infractions that warrant punishment forbidden by the United Nations as torture include “being loud and disruptive,” in the case of a girl with ADHD, and failing to remove shoes in another case, according to the ACLU and the JLC.

Wisconsin’s juvenile prisons have been under scrutiny since a federal raid in December 2015, when Department of Justice agents descended on the facilities to investigate reports of child abuse and cover-up by staff, according to local news reports.

The top brass at the schools left within days, and several state-level officials have also since been replaced.





Monday’s lawsuit focuses on the treatment of four juveniles, who appear through their parents with claims of excessive force, denial of the right to rehabilitation, and cruel and unusual punishment.

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  • piggypiggy

    If one of those children is reading this, resist. Mentally, the act of resistance gives us hope. That’s the true aim of this prison system, To take all hope.

  • Michael

    Welcome to the corrupt traitor for profit prison system and the traitor corrupt judges getting kickbacks to keep them full.

  • mark

    being a student at Lincoln hills school from 1985-1986 i can attest to abuse from the guards they call counselors being locked up for weeks in solitary confinement and restricting food for punishment. hopefully this investigation will force some changes

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    Don’t do the crime of you can’t handle the time

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