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Enough! (Lincoln Hills School)

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 4:59 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
Okay, enough. I’m tired of all the one-sided news about the staff at Lincoln Hills School. All we hear is how children are being so abused by the inept, bullying staff. Sorry, people, but these are not the nice young kids next door. These are convicted criminals!

I know the staff can’t talk, but why doesn’t anyone from the major daily newspapers bother to interview someone who has worked there, like retirees? They can talk and many are willing. Anyone knows there are two sides to every story. Why doesn’t someone try to learn both sides? I guess it’s too expensive to send a reporter this far north. It’s easier to get their information from the Dept. of Juvenile Corrections.

All we hear are things like, “Staff waits for backup before opening the cell door while girl tries to hang herself.” Guess what, folks! That’s an old setup sometimes intended to lure a staff person into a cell so the kids can jump him or her.

You don’t hear about the feces and urine thrown from cells at staff; feces even smeared all around the cell. You don’t hear about the physical assaults on staff. It’s always the other way around. One kid smeared feces all over himself as well as his cell. Staff took him to the shower while other staff cleaned his cell. How would you like either of those jobs?

When the decision was made to close Ethan Allen School and send all of these kids to Lincoln Hills, it was done because Lincoln Hills was the better-run school. It still would be had not changes come down when a Madison “educator” was appointed head of corrections.

No longer must the kids wear uniforms. Many city kids have drug money to spend on nice clothes. Farm kids wear jeans and get picked on for it. It’s one of many reasons for the fights.

Kids used to get their heads shaved when they entered the school. It took away a lot of the arrogance. No more.

Violent kids cannot have restraints used any more. The head of corrections called it “abuse,” but how do staffers deal with kids who are bigger than they are? A new staffer was attacked and curled up and let it happen until help arrived because he was told he couldn’t raise a hand to any of the kids.

Now gangs are running the buildings and there’s little staff can do about it because of the restrictions on them. There used to be three security cells. Now there is one. A stay in a security cell could last up to 17 days before. Now two days is usually max. The kids know they’ll get out as soon as someone else gets sent to the only security cell. Sometimes that’s a mere matter of hours.

There’s no talk among staffers of “rehab” anymore. It’s become an issue of holding minor age “thugs and gangsters” until their sentences are up. Recidivism is at its highest rate according to former staffers. There are no more mentoring programs that often took the kids outside the fences. When staffers who ran those programs left, they simply were not replaced. Now they don’t dare let the kids outside the school.

I’m not saying there haven’t been problems with staff, especially lately when they are short-handed and many have to work back-to-back eight-hour shifts. That’s enough to make anyone short-tempered. There have been some in the past which retirees referred to as “cowboys” who wanted to show who was boss.

But, like I said, there are two sides to every story and one isn’t being told. And, according to what I hear from that side is that all the problems at Lincoln Hills were created by administrators in Madison who remain clueless.

Re: Enough!

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 5:02 pm
by Tomahawk Leader
The following is a reply to Larry's column in the July 19 Leader from Brenda (Zietlow) Murphy, Tomahawk. An edited version (too many words) will be published in the July 26 Tomahawk Leader:

Dear Larry, Thanks so much for writing about the inequality of the reports of abuse and child endangerment at Lincoln Hills School. You were correct when you said current employees cannot discuss the situation, but retirees can.I am a former Youth Counselor, who went out on permanent disability in 2001 after being injured four different times and finally was diagnosed with PTSD, among other things. I was injured both indirectly and directly by students, with one student being put on five years adult probation for his assault on me. One injury resulted finally in a knee replacement.Although I've been gone from LHS for 15 years, I still have friends who are working there and they tell me the place is a hellhole, and that it has become progressively worse since my time there. It was pretty tough back them.

I do need to correct one thing, Larry, regarding security "cell" There were, in fact, three security cottages (each with the space to house 29 kids. They were minimum, medium and maximum units. We had the option, if students weren't working up to their potential, acquiring too many confinement hours, etc., of having the hearing officers remand them to the minimum security cottage for three days; the more serious offenders of rule infractions, or repeat offenders were sent to medium security and the more violent (to themselves and/or others) were sent to maximum security. This was not done arbitrarily, but rather as a way of distancing students from negative counterparts so that they could start working on their issues and get out of LHS. The more serious offenders who were extremely violent to other students, to staff and, sadly, to themselves were sent to the maximum security cottage.

As you said, these are not the kids next door, but rather young people who have already exhausted every possible resource available to them in their own homes, their own counties. Being sent to LHS is a last resort, before they are no longer considered juveniles, and are then sentenced to adult prisons where they will receive no rehabilitation of any kind.

Recently, I was accosted by a man who has no personal knowledge of LHS, nor did he know anything about me, other than I had worked at LHS. He cursed at me, accusing me of physically and sexually assaulting "those poor kids". The public needs to know that the students at LHS aren't there for misdemeanor crimes; not for shoplifting or truancy. But, rather, for felony crimes: murder, rape, armed robbery, sexual abuse of children, etc. Pats on the back and warm fuzzies are not going to rehab these students, however, the violence that is constantly threatened and carried out against staff and other students does prevent any kind of treatment or rehabilitation for these kids.

Just keeping the lid on the place is a constant task for each and every employee.Rather than believing all that is written (99% of which is erroneous), take the time to talk to those of us who have been on the front lines, have been threatened, spit on, had feces, urine and other bodily fluids thrown on us, have been cursed, grabbed inappropriately, have been assaulted, by these kids. Or, we've been hurt protecting students from other students.

Never, not even once, have I heard of an apology being given to a staff member who was hurt in the line of duty.Instead, any incident that occurs, the youth counselors, or patrol personnel, are questioned in a manner consistent with minds already made up that the kids are innocent victims and staff are monsters.Walk a mile in their shoes, folks, or, better yet, work 8 hours with those kids and you'll see what I'm talking about.

Re: Enough!

Posted: Tue Jul 19, 2016 10:31 pm
by Old Scout
I know several people who have worked there and some who are currently working there. The stories I have heard about the inmates (yes that is what they are) make me wonder what the people in Madison are thinking. Have they ever been there to see what the staff is dealing with.

A slap on the hand and scolding them isn't going to do any good. They need to be treated as the criminals that they are. This isn't just a baby sitting service, this is in all respects a prison that just happens to be holding juveniles instead of adults.

It is about time those in Madison wake up and quit blaming the staff who in most cases are probably defending themselves from serious harm rather than abusing anyone and put the blame where it belongs, on the system, the inmates and the ones that are making these stupid rules. :roll: