Juvenile facility Lincoln Hills gets new superintendent

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MADISON – The state’s juvenile lockup is getting a new superintendent as Wisconsin officials prepare to miss a deadline requiring them to close the facility next year.

Klint Trevino, the security director at Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Copper Lake School for Girls, is being promoted to superintendent, the top job at the correctional campus 30 miles north of Wausau. 

Trevino replaces Jason Benzel, who left in April to become the warden of Dodge Correctional Institution. Lori McAllister, who has been running the facility day to day since Benzel’s departure, will stay on as deputy superintendent. 

Corrections officials plan to hire someone to replace Trevino as security director, the No. 3 post at the facility. Trevino started at Lincoln Hills in 2014 as a youth counselor, one of the frontline positions that work directly with the teens held at the facility.

“Working with youth in this sector, it gets in your blood,” Trevino said in a statement. “I’m motivated by the interaction with the youth, the light-bulb moments.”

He will take over as superintendent on June 21 and make about $107,000 a year. He earned about $80,000 a year as security director.

Lincoln Hills has been the subject of multiple lawsuits that resulted in more than $25 million in legal fees and payouts to inmates. A four-year criminal investigation of the facility ended last year without charges.

Conditions have improved in recent months, according to reports from an independent expert who is monitoring the prison as part of a court order. 

To deal with the spate of problems, lawmakers passed legislation requiring Lincoln Hills to close by July 2021. But Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republicans who control the Legislature have acknowledged they won’t meet that deadline because they haven’t funded plans to build replacement facilities to hold juvenile offenders. 

Contact Patrick Marley at patrick.marley@jrn.com. Follow him on Twitter at @patrickdmarley.

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