No New Youth Prison in Milwaukee!

Gov. Tony Evers

Wisconsin officials are proposing the construction of a new $42 million dollar youth prison to be located at 7930 W. Clinton Ave. in Milwaukee. This is in response to the planned closure of two existing youth prisons, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake.

Milwaukee Democratic Socialists of America, African American Roundtable, Black Leaders Organizing Communities (BLOC), Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), and other coalition partners are working together to stop the construction of this costly, ineffective, and repressive facility.

There are myriad ways to keep our communities safe without locking up and harming Wisconsin youth who need community support, not punishment. Building more jails does not solve this problem, it only creates more of them for our society.

Governor Tony Evers has the power to halt construction without action from the state legislature by declaring a moratorium on racist "superpredator" sentences for Wisconsin youth. For more information, read our fact sheet about this issue.

Sign the petition to call on Gov. Evers to put a stop to this new youth prison!

Sponsored by
Milwaukee, WI

To: Gov. Tony Evers
From: Bryan Pfeifer

Governor Evers, declare a moratorium on super predator sentences rather than building a new youth prison!

The youth prison you’ve proposed and intend to build will harm Milwaukee’s youth and not advance public safety. Incarceration is always harmful. Locking someone up, especially a young person, reduces their life expectancy, causes post-traumatic stress and other mental health issues, isolates them from their family and support structures, deprives them of education and opportunities, and stigmatizes them, setting them up for failure in life and increased likelihood that they will go on to harm others. Incarceration degrades public safety.

Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake MUST close as quickly as possible. These facilities are currently operating illegally, and the abuse youth experienced there cannot be allowed to happen again. Building a new prison is the worst way to close those prisons. It will take years to build. It will not hold enough kids to empty Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, where the population is expanding and already more than doubles the capacity of the proposed facility. Kids at any prison, new or old, close or far from home, will be harmed and potentially killed by incarceration.

Governor Evers, you can empty Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake much more quickly, without spending $42 million. All you have to do is declare a moratorium on an outdated, racist sentencing structure rooted in the paranoid and disproven “superpredator” myth.

The “Serious Juvenile Offender Program” (SJOP) is the law that requires Wisconsin to put some kids in an extra-secure Type 1 facility. It was passed in the 90s, based on media hype surrounding discredited and racist research. You have proposed eliminating that sentence to the state legislature, and they refused.

The state legislature is illegitimate and gerrymandered. It has been captured by bigots who will never do right by the people of Milwaukee. In this situation, it falls on you, as Governor, to use your constitutionally protected clemency powers to defend Wisconsin’s young people from those bigots.

As governor, through the aforementioned moratorium and shifted budget priorities, you can lead Wisconsin counties and municipalities in prioritizing education over incarceration and policing.

The proposed prison will waste $42 million on 32 prison beds (more than $1 million per child) creating harmful outcomes for Milwaukee, rather than the educational, vocational, apprentice, and recreational supports that our children both deserve and need to improve all of our futures. We, the undersigned, demand you change course and declare a moratorium on the SJOP immediately, close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, and invest in youth education, support, and real, preventative public safety measures now.