Milwaukee youth prison; Mayor Johnson signs off on new facility

Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson on Wednesday, Jan. 25 signed off on construction of a new state juvenile correctional facility on the city's north side.

The facility will be on Clinton Avenue – near 76th and Good Hope – but isn't set to open until 2026.

"No one here is sugarcoating the fact that there are some youth who live in our region who got into some serious trouble," Johnson said. "In some cases, there is violence in brazen disregard for others. But giving up on these young people, though – that’s simply not an option."

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Johnson's approval Wednesday came after the Common Council OK'd on Jan. 17 the rezoning needed to permit the new youth prison's construction. 

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

"I want to make access to local services that can be life changing," Johnson said. "That’s not readily available to young people sent off to the far northern reaches of the state of Wisconsin. That can only happen at a facility here in our community."

The new youth prison would include basketball courts, a gardening area and educational spaces and a 16-foot wall. 

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.