Gov. Scott Walker recently announced a plan to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake and move offenders from the Northern Wisconsin youth prisons to new regional facilities.

The plan would take effect in 2019, but in response to lawmakers’ concerns, Walker said he is open to accelerating the timeline.

Walker’s plan calls for $80 million in borrowing during the 2019-21 budget to fund the new regional facilities.

But retrofitting Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake into a medium-security adult prison would be an additional cost.

Along with the five regional facilities, the plan also calls for expanding the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center.

According to the guv’s office, the regional facilities would have between 32 and 36 beds, and the state also would work with Lincoln County on the transition of the youth prisons to a medium-security adult facility.

DOC spokesman Tristan Cook said the department will work with the Department of Administration’s Division of Facility Development in the next biennium to estimate projected costs and begin the design process for five new regional facilities. One would be north of a line between Manitowoc and La Crosse, while Cook told that three of those facilities are slated to be located in southeastern Wisconsin.

DOC will work with counties to determine the location of the fifth facility.

There is an ongoing federal probe at the prison over the treatment of inmates, and the ACLU filed a lawsuit that resulted in a federal judge order requiring changes in the use of solitary confinement, restraints and pepper spray.

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