Four juvenile inmates reached the roof of a Wisconsin prison in August, throwing shingles, rocks and pieces of metal at guards before they were subdued, according to the Department of Corrections.
Employees at the Lincoln Hills prison say clashes between guards and inmates have increased since a federal court order in July requiring a reduction in the use of pepper spray and solitary confinement.
The shared campuses of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons, which house about 160 boy and girl juvenile inmates, have been under federal investigation for nearly three years and are the subject of multiple lawsuits. Gov. Scott Walker this week ordered state Department of Corrections Secretary Jon Litscher to name an interim superintendent at the prison complex north of Wausau.
On Sunday, five prison workers were hospitalized after a pair of violent clashes with inmates in a housing unit. And two weeks ago Lincoln Hills teacher Pandora Lobacz was punched in the face and knocked out.
Department of Corrections spokesman Tristan Cook praised the staff's handling of the Aug. 3 unrest, saying they radioed for assistance, developed a plan in consultation with institution leadership and persuaded one youth to come down from the roof. Others on the roof were apprehended and placed in solitary confinement after they jumped down, he said.
Union shop steward Jason Caroo has not returned phone messages seeking comment on the recent unrest.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday on documents it obtained under the state open records law that detailed the standoff between staff and inmates. The incident reports showed that inmates tore metal pipes from the rooftop and swung them like baseball bats at approaching guards, the Journal Sentinel reported.
Litscher visited the prison last week and met with staff for three hours, Cook said. Litscher last week declared that the prison was safe for both inmates and workers.
"He had a candid and productive discussion with a number of staff," Cook said. "While much of the discussion centered on staff safety, a number of other topics were discussed."
Litscher identified several areas to make improvements, Cook said, including scheduling changes, expanding the pool of staff available to fill overtime security posts and purchasing personal security alarms for non-security staff.
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