- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 21, 2018

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Latest on juvenile justice overhaul bill (all times local):

2:40 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker says he will sign into law a bill that would close the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile prison by 2021 and overhaul the entire juvenile justice system.

The Assembly unanimously passed the bill on Wednesday. It now goes to the Senate, where Republican Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has been non-committal.

Walker says he spoke with all Republican senators to urge them to support it.

Walker told reporters that he was confident “we’ll be able to convince a majority of both Democrats and Republicans in the state Senate to vote for it as well.”

Walker says now that counties support the measure, “I think we’re in a great spot.”


2:30 p.m.

The state Assembly has approved a bipartisan bill that would shutter Wisconsin’s troubled youth prison within in three years.

The Assembly passed the measure 95-0 Wednesday, sending it on to the Senate. The proposal calls for closing the prison outside Irma by the beginning of 2021, moving the most dangerous inmates into other state prisons and placing the rest in county facilities. The bill authorizes $80 million in borrowing for building or renovating new state and county facilities.

The Assembly passed the bill just over a week after Republican Speaker Robin Vos introduced it. Lawmakers are moving quickly because the Assembly hopes to complete its work for the year by Thursday and Walker has called on them to approve a juvenile justice overhaul before adjourning.

The bill originally called for closing the existing youth prison by mid-2020. Counties expressed concerns about the timeline and how much the bill might cost. And Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he doesn’t know if the bill can clear his house before it finishes its work for the session in March.

Vos says counties are on board with the current version of the bill but Fitzgerald remains noncommittal.


2 p.m.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald remains noncommittal on a bill to close the Lincoln Hills juvenile prison and overhaul the entire system.

Fitzgerald has previously said passing the bill is a “heavy lift” given agreements that have to be reached with counties, local law enforcement and others involved.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers unveiled a new version of the proposal Wednesday. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says counties that had earlier raised concerns are now on board.

Fitzgerald spokesman Dan Romportl says that even though changes have been made, senators needed more time to review them. Romportl says, “I cannot predict the level of support it will have.”

Walker met with lawmakers to discuss the bill earlier Wednesday and his spokeswoman Amy Hasenberg says he is supportive.


12:55 p.m.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers working on a juvenile justice overhaul plan that would close the troubled Lincoln Hills prison say the latest version of the plan has the support of counties and Gov. Scott Walker.

The Assembly is scheduled to pass the bill Wednesday. Democratic Rep. David Bowen, of Milwaukee, says he hopes the bill passes unanimously.

Walker met with a bipartisan group of lawmakers before the Assembly session Wednesday to discuss the latest version of the bill. Vos says changes made to address concerns of counties about their role in the new system have been addressed and they are now supportive.

The bill would close Lincoln Hills by 2021, the state would house the most serious offenders and counties would house the rest in residential care centers.


9:28 a.m.

The latest version of a bipartisan plan to overhaul Wisconsin’s juvenile justice system would close the troubled Lincoln Hills prison by 2021.

The bill was scheduled to be voted on Wednesday in the Assembly. It must also pass the Senate, which won’t take it up until sometime next month.

As originally introduced the bill would have closed the prison by mid-2020.

Under the bipartisan proposal, the most serious juvenile offenders would remain under state control as they are now. But all other juveniles would be transferred to control of counties.

A council would be created to study juvenile corrections issues and a new grant program would be available for counties to apply for to pay for the cost of establishing new facilities.

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