A federal judge has ordered the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to make a series of changes at Wisconsin’s juvenile prisons to reduce the use of solitary confinement and pepper spray by July 21.

U.S. District Judge James Peterson said in his order Monday that the changes will “drastically reduce the use of punitive restrictive housing, chemical agents, and mechanical restraints.”

Teen inmates at the Irma prison may not be held in solitary confinement for longer than seven days. It’s a sharp decrease from the state’s current practice, sometimes keeping inmates in isolation for longer than two months.

The Department of Corrections and attorneys representing past and current inmates had submitted a largely agreed-upon plan on Friday for the judge to review.


The judge says in his order that most of the critical changes must be in place by July 21. But he says he’s giving prison officials more time to implement other changes that require additional training or programming for the inmates at the Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake prisons.