Wisconsin juvenile prison placed on lockdown - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Wisconsin juvenile prison placed on lockdown

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -

Wisconsin's juvenile prisons have been placed on lockdown Tuesday while guards from an adult prison help search for contraband.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections confirmed the search was underway. It comes as prison workers have said they feared the inmates were planning a full-scale riot in the wake of several recent violent episodes.

Corrections Department spokesman Tristan Cook says the search will be facility-wide at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile prisons.

Interim Superintendent for Lincoln Hills John Paquin said the facility has been planning the unprecedented lockdown since Thursday. 

"Generally, they do [lockdowns] annually. It's my understanding, from talking to the staff here, a search lockdown of this magnitude has never been conducted here," Paquin said. "Provide safety and security to the institution and the facility and to the staff and to the youth." 

Paquin said there is no evidence to believe inmates were planning a riot. 

Former Lincoln Hills Union Steward Doug Curtis says staff have been told the search will take place over two days, but Paquin said the lockdown could last up to four days and maybe even longer if certain contraband is recovered.

Curtis says the search is overdue, given that prison guards have reported several potentially dangerous items as missing recently, including drill bits and razor blades.

"They have to come up with answers. They have to show that they're doing something. With that being said, it's very important that they do this," Curtis said. "It's about time." 

"If some of this was taken care of earlier, I wouldn't be in the position I am now," said Pandora Lobacz, who was attacked by an inmate. "It's kind of been shuffled under the rug, as far as these incidents where the youth have these types of weapons that can not only be used against staff, but to be used against peers."

Cook told Newsline 9 the facility-wide search of Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School Tuesday was a part of correctional officer training.

The search was conducted by the Division of Adult Institutions correctional officer trainees and Division of Juvenile Corrections youth counselor trainees, Cook said.

Division of Adult Institutions staff and DOC’s Incident Management Team are providing support as the search is conducted, according to Cook.

Copper Lake School/Lincoln Hills School will be locked down for the duration of the search, Cook said.

Youth visitation is temporarily suspended during the search.

Paquin declined comment whether any contraband was found Tuesday. He said that detail won't be released until the investigation is complete.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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