Sunday, January 21st


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Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls have been the subject of a criminal investigation for three years.(Photo: Mark Hoffman, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

MADISON - The state's troubled teen prison on Thursday got its fourth leader in just over two years — a Wisconsin deputy warden with extensive experience in adult corrections but not juvenile facilities.

Gov. Scott Walker's administration announced it was putting Jason Benzel, the deputy warden of Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, in charge of Lincoln Hills School for Boys, which has been under a criminal investigation for three years.

Separately, a federal judge last summer ordered the state to greatly curb its use of solitary confinement and pepper spray at the teen prison north of Wausau. Walker has said he plans to close the prison and convert it to an adult prison if he is re-elected this fall. 



The Wisconsin capitol building is shown in Madison.(Photo: Journal Sentinel file photo)

MADISON - The state Ethics Commission remained unified behind its director Thursday, even as Republicans who control the Legislature seek to remove him from office. 

The three Republicans joined the three Democrats on the commission to back their administrator, Brian Bell. The vote underscores the divide between Republicans on the commission who back him and Republicans in the Senate who want to push him out of his job.

Support for Bell comes as the commission conducts an investigation of Bell that he requested an effort to clear his name. reported Wednesday that the commission has hired former Dane County Circuit Judge Patrick Fiedler to conduct that review. 

Separately, the Ethics Commission is conducting an audit of lobbyists' activity. Preliminary information about that review could be released as early as Thursday, after the commission discusses the issue behind closed doors. 

Republicans who control the state Senate 18-13 have said they will vote Jan.

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Rebecca Dallet.(Photo: Scott Bauer, Associated Press)

MADISON - Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Rebecca Dallet has raised more than $500,000 in her bid to join the state Supreme Court, according to her campaign.

Dallet had about $389,000 on hand as of the end of December. Her campaign released her totals Thursday ahead of filing her campaign finance report with the state. 

The other candidates — Madison-area attorney Tim Burns and Sauk County Circuit Court Judge Michael Screnock — have not yet released details about their fundraising. Reports are due with the state Tuesday. 

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Burns has run as a liberal and Screnock as a conservative. Dallet spoke at the state Democratic Party convention but has said she seeks to appeal to voters from both sides.

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Lincoln Hills School in Irma.(Photo: Mark Hoffman / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

MADISON - Federal prosecutors are investigating an incident in which prison guards allegedly stormed into a disruptive 16-year-old inmate’s cell, broke his arm, strip searched him, left him naked for hours and didn’t get him to a doctor for more than a week.

Details of the March 2014 encounter at Lincoln Hills School for Boys emerged in interviews with the inmate and his mother, state records and a civil rights lawsuit the inmate filed last month, just after prosecutors notified two former guards they could be indicted.

“I told him, ‘You’re breaking my arm, you’re breaking my arm,’ and he kept pulling it harder,” Jacob Bailey said of his treatment from one guard.

RELATED: Crisis at Lincoln Hills was years in the making

RELATED:Federal prosecutors identify two former guards as targets in Lincoln Hills investigation

The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office and prison officials reviewed the incident at the time and determined little had gone wrong.

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U.S. Navy veteran Jonathan Brewer has a blood sample drawn by LeAnne Pomeroy.(Photo: Mark Hoffman/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)Buy Photo

A combination of severe winter weather, flu and cold season and college students on break has created a critical blood shortage across the nation.

In Wisconsin, the shortage is not as severe but two weeks of bitterly cold temperatures in late December and early January prevented some donors from giving blood.

Nationally, more than 200 blood drives were canceled, resulting in around 6,500 fewer blood and platelet donations, mostly because of storms in the eastern U.S. last week.

"We're at 28,000 fewer donations than where we need to be on a national basis," said Laura McGuire, external communications manager for the Badger-Hawkeye American Red Cross region.

In the Wisconsin region, the Red Cross needs 455 donations each day to keep up with the demand at the 31 hospitals the organization supplies blood.