Lockdown lifted at Lincoln Hills; attorney general speaks on 'dangers' of judge's order for prisonSubmitted: 11/02/2017
Story By Ben Meyer

Lockdown lifted at Lincoln Hills; attorney general speaks on 'dangers' of judge's order for prison
IRMA, WAUSAU - Normal activity started to return to the Lincoln Hills youth prison on Thursday after a two-day lockdown.

Starting Tuesday morning, staff members and additional Department of Corrections employees searched the rooms of inmates for contraband. Inmates were kept in their living spaces during the lockdown.

"[Lincoln Hills] is currently in the process of transitioning to normal institution operations in a safe and secure manner," wrote Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook in an email. "Youth visitation has resumed, education is taking place on living units, and other activities are transitioning or have transitioned to normal operations.

Interim superintendent John Paquin said the lockdown was a response to staff concerns about safety.

At an unrelated stop in Wausau on Thursday, when asked by reporters, Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel warned about the "dangers" presented by a judge's order for Lincoln Hills.

This summer, a federal judge ordered a reduction in the use of pepper spray, handcuffs, and solitary confinement at Lincoln Hills. Some staff said that has led to increased inmate violence at the prison, and a reduced ability for staff to respond.

"When courts step in and issue orders directing how a prison institution is run you can run into dangers," Schimel said. "It takes pretty serious actions to end up at Lincoln Hills or Copper Lake Schools."

Schimel's state Department of Justice had been investigating Lincoln Hills until 2016, when it turned the job over to the FBI.

But Schimel said it was a "possibility" the DOJ could retake a role in the investigation. First, he said, the U.S. Senate needs to confirm a new U.S. Attorney to replace John Vaudreuil, who resigned in March.

"We're kind of waiting now for the appointment of the new U.S. Attorney in Madison. We'll work closely with them to sort this out. We hope that's imminent," Schimel said.

There's no timeline on the FBI investigation.

-Newswatch 12's Rose McBride contributed to this report.

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