Sen. Taylor calls Litscher “secretary of cruel and unusual punishment”

Will the leopard will change its spots?

(MADISON) – Today, Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) expressed her reservations with Governor Scott Walker’s appointment of former Department of Corrections Secretary Jon E. Litscher to reclaim his post amid an FBI probe into wrongdoing at the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls.

The announcement was formalized Friday afternoon, shortly after the FBI announced it was taking over a DOJ investigation at the juvenile detention.  In his resignation letter, Wall stated it was time for the Department of Corrections to “turn the page.”

“What happened at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake is not new. Just look at the lawsuits into Taycheedah and SuperMax,” said Taylor. “I agree with turning the page to address items like trauma-informed care, better staffing levels and other concerns raised by the students and staff. Instead, Governor Walker turned the page backwards by more than a decade.”

As Secretary of DOC under Governor Tommy Thompson, Litscher was successfully sued for violating the 8th Amendment to the United States Constitution. In 2001, a federal court rule the treatment of residents at Wisconsin’s SuperMax prison constituted cruel and unusual punishment. Residents at Boscobel spent all but four hours a week confined to one constantly illuminated cell, received no outdoor exercise, were only allowed to shower three times per week and were subjected to dangerously hot temperatures. Ultimately, a court ordered Litscher and the DOC to change its practices.

“This is about safe streets. Most incarcerated people will eventually get out,” said Taylor. “We should turn them over to the Secretary of Corrections, not the Secretary of Cruel and Unusual Punishment. I hope that the leopard has changed its spots and is going to do this job differently this time.”

Jon E. Litscher is expected to have a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee on March 2nd. Taylor serves as one of five members of that committee.

Madison Office - 608-266-5810

Room 5, South Wing
State Capitol , P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882