WisDems: Gov. Walker shows callous indifference to mounting dangers at Lincoln Hills

Contact: Melanie Conklin
608-260-2409

Madison, Wisconsin – On Sundayfive workers at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys were sent to the hospital after “chaos” erupted, yet Gov. Walker continues to neglect his duty as governor of Wisconsin and his responsibility to the juvenile residents and his employees at the state facility.

Walker has refused to visit his troubled facility. He has declined to meet with the families of youth and workers injured there. And he has failed to personally address, evaluate or find real solutions to the mismanagement and violence he continues to allow on his watch — leaving it to media to call attention to the growing crisis.

Early this week, instead of immediately addressing the hospitalization of five state employees, Walker sought to grab the national spotlight by circulating a petition demanding NFL players stand for the national anthem. It took Walker two days to even comment on the Lincoln Hills injuries, and his callous response toward both the juveniles and the employees made it clear he sees the growing crisis at his facility as one of public relations, not serious danger to all involved.

When asked if he intends to visit the facility, Walker said he has no plans to do so. When asked what actions he is taking to address this current crisis, Walker passed the buck, saying he’s waiting to hear from his staff if anything needs to be done. (He sent a letter asking for a supervisory position that has been vacant for two months to be filled.)

“It’s disgraceful that Walker took two days to respond to this crisis, yet he found the time to launch a racially divisive ad campaign targeting NFL players,” said Martha Laning, chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. “Walker is showing no interest in visiting Lincoln Hills to see the dangerous situation he is permitting on his watch because he’s too busy campaigning.

“In fact, our governor is planning on leaving the country tomorrow, despite the volatile situation at Lincoln Hills and the presence of a ‘nuclear bomb’ in the Foxconn contract. Scott Walker needs to start caring about performing the demanding and vital duties of the governor of Wisconsin, rather than seeking out ways to promote himself as a candidate in the national spotlight. He must start putting Wisconsin first.”

The problems at Lincoln Hills have been accumulating for years on Walker’s watch, and the facility has been under FBI investigation since early 2016. Yet the Walker administration has been reluctant to respond to the myriad of horrifying incidents that he has allowed to fester at the juvenile corrections facility, including the amputation of a resident’s toes, the illegal holding a 16 year-old-child in solitary confinement, and multiple allegations of sexual assault.

“Walker should have gotten to work nearly two years ago when the FBI launched its investigation. His inaction is appalling in light of these escalating tensions. He may not have any sympathy for juvenile offenders, but at the end of the day, these kids are in state care and deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They need an environment where they can heal, not continue to be traumatized.

“Wisconsin needs a governor that shows real leadership in times of crisis and who cares about keeping people in state care safe. Scott Walker has failed these tests, ducking his responsibility to protect the residents and workers at Lincoln Hills time and time again.”

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