Milwaukee youth prison proposal set for final Common Council vote

A Milwaukee Common Council committee voted Tuesday, Jan. 10 to approve rezoning that would permit the construction of a new youth prison in Milwaukee, replacing Lincoln Hills. It would house the state's most serious young offenders.

The Milwaukee site near 76th and Clinton is an old emissions testing center. Governor Tony Evers' administration picked it in August. 

Following Tuesday's 5-0 committee vote in favor of rezoning the site for the youth prison, the full Milwaukee Common Council will take up the matter Jan. 17. Before Tuesday's vote, city leaders heard public comment on the plan. 

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections held public listening sessions regarding the facility in November and mailed notices to people living within 800 feet of the site. A public hearing was held in December before Milwaukee's Plan Commission.

The site for 32 boys would replace Lincoln Hills, the scandal-plagued youth detention facility in north central Wisconsin. It’s 200 miles and 3 hours from Milwaukee. It’s still open even though 2018 state law ordered it closed by 2021.

"The goal of the design was to make this look like a non-correctional facility, like a school, like a treatment facility, and really deemphasize the physical security aspects that you might see with a typical prison and really focus on the therapeutic aspects, to make it feel more like a school on the inside and outside," said Mark Ludgatis, BWBR Architects.

After the full Milwaukee Common Council vote on the proposal, the state building commission will have to approve the final plans.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

"We really don’t want it there," said Joe Greer, who lives near the site. "Really. We don’t want it there. We prefer them to put it someplace else. This is a nice cul-de-sac, and we don’t want all that traffic coming through here. We’re worried about property values."