Wisconsin Corrections Department closes internal unit

MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is closing an internal affairs unit whose investigation into employee misconduct at the state's youth prison prompted ongoing federal investigation into conditions there.

Spokesman Tristan Cook said Friday that Office of Special Operations investigators will be reassigned to handle sexual assaults. He says this will position the agency to comply with federal Prison Rape Elimination Act standards and better respond to incidents.

Former inmates of the state's Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prison have alleged in lawsuits that employees overuse solitary confinement and pepper spray. Cook says the DOC employs several trained investigators that conduct the majority of investigations into staff misconduct.

Department employees were notified of the changes earlier this week. They will take effect in late June.