MADISON (NBC 26) – The Joint Finance Committee voted Wednesday to reject a plan to build new institutions to replace Wisconsin's troubled youth prison, which would have located a new Type 1 Juvenile Correctional Facility in the town of Hortonia in Outagamie County on state owned property.
Lawmakers had voted to close the institution outside Irma by July 1, 2021, and replace it with new state prisons and smaller county-run facilities. The Department of Corrections submitted a $73.2 million plan to the Joint Finance Committee to build two new youth prisons in Milwaukee and Hortonia.
No money has been allocated for any new youth prisons, however. The Legislature would have to authorize additional borrowing. The finance committee voted Wednesday to scrap the plan, saying there's no money for it.
Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay), who represents Hortonia, released the following statement:
“From the day that Governor Evers and his Department of Corrections abruptly announced that Hortonia will house a Type 1 Serious Juvenile Offender Facility without the prior notification or acknowledgement of local citizens or elected officials, I have tirelessly advocated as a conduit for the constituents in my district to ensure their opposition to this location was heard. I shared the concerns of these residents with members of the Joint Finance Committee, and I applaud them for listening and choosing to vote to reject this site. In doing so, JFC members stood with the over 700 citizens of Hortonia, Hortonville, and surrounding area who signed a petition in opposition to the construction of the youth prison."
Cowles also submitted comments to the draft Environmental Assessment for the proposed site identifying concerns regarding consistent flooding, wetland mitigation needs and ecological and wildlife concerns.
--The Associated Press contributed.