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Experts applaud decision to close Lincoln Hills and form other teen prisons

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MADISON (WKOW) -- It's a decision that's being applauded by some who say closing Lincoln Hills may help teens. But others warn it's just the first stop to fixing a broken path in the criminal justice system. 

It's a teen prison that was plagued by controversy. Abuse, to firings and reports of mismanagement were just a few of the troubles. 

But Thursday's decision by Governor Scott Walker to close Lincoln Hill and Copper Lake is being welcomed by many who said it took long enough. 

"I think it's a promising move. It makes a lot of sense in light of problems both with children being confined at Lincoln Hills," said Cecilia Klingele, a UW-Madison associate law professor. 

"This is great news for kids. Closing Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake is a step forward for our state, for the kids of our state," added Ken Taylor, with Kids Forward located in Madison. 

Klingele says for now, it's too early to tell how this could impact teens, but making more facilities available in more communities will benefit juveniles. 

"Children ten d to do best when they are in family settings and smaller settings. and best when they're connected to their local community," said Taylor.

He says the decision will help keep juveniles from going back to prison.

"When they do come home, they are more likely to be successful and not re-offend and better reintegrate back into their families and communities," said Taylor. 

Still, Taylor says this is just the start to fixing a bigger issue with the criminal justice system. 

"We could argue that it took us longer than it should have to get here, but we should celebrate that we're here today, but also acknowledge that we have a lot of work ahead of us to make this a the positive thing that it can be," said Taylor.

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