Democrats on the Assembly Corrections Committee are calling for a hearing into alleged abuse at the state’s juvenile prison in Lincoln County.
Reps. Mandela Barnes and David Bowen of Milwaukee and Sondy Pope of Cross Plains released a letter they sent Tuesday to committee chairman Rep. Rob Hutton, R-Brookfield, requesting a formal hearing.
In a statement, Barnes noted officials in Gov. Scott Walker’s administration learned about allegations of staff abusing inmates a year ago, and some Republican legislators learned about allegations of inmates abusing staff as early as March.
Barnes, Bowen and Pope were among several lawmakers of both parties who learned about problems at the facility in mid-November.
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“It is time to shed light on these allegations and provide the public an opportunity to examine the systemic failures within our state corrections system,” Barnes said in a statement.
Hutton did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The state Justice Department began an investigation into alleged inmate abuse in January. A John Doe investigation into several potential crimes, ranging from sexual assault to misconduct in public office, was opened in October.
Prison staff said there continued to be chaotic incidents and inmates suffering injuries through Thanksgiving weekend. The following weekend, DOJ and FBI agents conducted an intensive investigation of the facility.
Several staff members have been placed on paid leave, the prison superintendent and division administrator were relieved of their duties Dec. 3, and the state has laid out several steps it has taken to address problems, including plans to equip staff with body cameras.