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For Immediate Release
May 6, 2021
Elizabeth Goodsitt, 608-266-1683
Jennifer Miller, 608-266-1683

DHS Secretary-designee Timberlake's Statement on the Joint Committe on Finance's Action on Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center

DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake released the following statement regarding the Committee’s approval for the Department of Health Services (DHS) to proceed with construction of a 50-bed expansion of the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center (MJTC):

“Today was an important first step towards reforming our juvenile justice system and closing Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools. Expanding the Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center to serve juvenile girls for the first time will allow equitable access to psychiatric treatment services and provide an expanded opportunity for the most troubled youth across our state to receive the rehabilitation supports needed to successfully reintegrate into their communities.

I want to thank the committee for their action today and also stress that the legislature’s work cannot stop here. In addition to making sure youth in the deepest end of the corrections system have treatment options, investments in community-based youth justice programming and a juvenile corrections facility in Milwaukee are still needed. This will ensure that a full continuum of options are available. DHS, the Governor and the entire administration remain committed to returning juveniles closer to home and closing Lincoln Hills.”

Background on MJTC 

MJTC is located on the grounds of the Mendota Mental Health Institute in Madison and currently has 29 beds to serve juvenile boys. The 50-bed addition would include 30 additional beds for boys and 20 beds for girls.

The treatment model at MJTC is recognized around the world for the ability to treat troubled youth by strengthening their connections to desirable social behaviors, beliefs, and relationships. Youth at MJTC receive academic support, group therapy for anger management, and treatment related to issues such as substance abuse or a sexual offense. 

Youth are transferred to MJTC from juvenile corrections facilities for disruptive behaviors and unresponsiveness to standard treatment. They move to and from the facility based on assessments of their mental health and security needs as well as their motivation for positive change.

Last revised January 27, 2023