Brown County proposal for juvenile corrections facility moves to legislative committee

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- In an effort to close Lincoln Hills/Copper Lake juvenile facilities, the state created an $80 million grant to help counties build a secure residential care center for children and youth in its area.

Brown County submitted a proposal for the $43 million regional secure youth corrections facility.

Four counties (Brown, Milwaukee, Racine and Dane) submitted proposals for the grant, which have been reviewed by the state Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee.

The applications are now headed to the Joint Finance Committee.

“They're [Joint Finance Committee] going to have to determine if they are going to offer more in order to build the four facilities that are currently being proposed,” said Brown County Supervisor, Erik Hoyer.

He’s also the chair of the Brown County Human Services Committee.

Brown County’s proposal to build a $43 million facility is on the list submitted to the Joint Finance Committee this week.

However, Hoyer says one of the concerns is if the state will have enough funding to support all four proposals, which totals $114 million.

“The other big concern is once it is open, whether there will be support, beyond internal support from ourselves and other counties to actually operate,” said Hoyer.

Five counties (Manitowoc, Fond du Lac, Door, Marinette, and Waushara) submitted letters of support for Brown County's proposal, which includes a 24 bed secure residential care center and a 32 bed secure detention center.

State funding would cover 95% for design and construction costs, but not day to day maintenance.

Brown County leaders estimate it would cost $550-$685 to run the facility per day.

“Their programming would be more outcome based, more individualized for the youth and less of an incarceration setting. We know that youth would benefit more from that than just being locked up somewhere,” said Patricia Dodge, director of Manitowoc County Health and Human Services.

Representative John Nygren (R-Marinette) who is on the Joint Finance Committee says he’s happy to see Brown County’s proposal included in the state gran committee's recommendations.

However, it’s too early to tell if more funding could be allocated to support all four projects.

When the item will be taken up in the Joint Finance Committee has yet to be determined.

Meanwhile, Brown County’s Public Safety Committee will take up a resolution of support at its meeting next week.