MADISON, Wis. — Staff logs from a youth prison in northern Wisconsin show nearly 500 incidents of aggression, fighting and violence in the four months preceding a December raid by law enforcement at the troubled facility.
The logs were provided to the Wisconsin State Journal (http://bit.ly/2bQyHqw ) by the Department of Corrections under the state’s open records law. The reports show conditions at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls just before federal and state law enforcement officials arrived to investigate allegations of abuse by staff members. The two facilities share a campus in Irma, about 30 miles north of Wausau.
Altercations and confrontations resulted in 32 injuries to inmates and seven injured staff between July and December of 2015, according to the logs.
“The place was getting more and more violent and out of control — and that’s what brought the place down,” said Troy Bauch, the youth prison union representative at the time of the incidents. “The kids took control of the institution.”
Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook said the incidents were logged by John Ourada, the former superintendent of the Irma facility, but that the documents are not a complete list of events.
The original state investigation into conditions at the youth prison sought to determine whether there were crimes of child neglect, abuse of inmates, strangulation and suffocation, intimidation of victims, use of pepper spray to cause bodily harm and other law violations.
U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil said recently the federal investigation that followed, headed by the FBI, is still under way. Vaudreuil’s office is assessing whether to file criminal charges. The FBI will forward its findings to U.S. Department of Justice’s civil rights division where a decision will be made on whether to open a civil investigation.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj