Wisconsin youth prison

Chronic problems at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons have prompted activists to call for shutting the facilities down. Teen inmates as well as prison workers have been subject to violent abuse and mistreatment.

A former Wisconsin prisons secretary said Friday that he’s writing a tell-all book about how the investigation into abuse at the state’s youth prison was botched and how difficult life was inside Gov. Scott Walker’s Cabinet.

Ed Wall said he’s written five chapters of the book so far and is planning 25 more chapters. He hasn’t hired an agent yet and doesn’t have a publication date, but he said the book will focus on how politicians don’t care about anything but themselves.

“It’s going to give people insight into what life is really like inside the Walker Cabinet,” Wall said in a telephone interview. “I learned I don’t like working with politicians. They’re far too focused on themselves rather than the people they’re supposed to serve.”

Walker appointed Wall as Department of Corrections secretary, a cabinet position, in 2012. Word broke in late 2015 that the DOJ had been investigating allegations of widespread guard-on-prisoner abuse at the youth prison outside Irma. Wall ultimately resigned in February 2016 as news broke that the FBI had taken over the investigation.

State law permitted Wall to return to his previous job as administrator of the DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation. Justice officials gave him the job back, but quickly demoted him and placed him on administrative leave.

Attorney General Brad Schimel fired him in April 2016 after he sent a letter to the home of Walker’s chief-of-staff, Rich Zipperer, asking for help in getting his old administrator’s job back. He noted in the letter the administration’s concerns about creating public records and told Zipperer to feel free to shred it. Schimel said he couldn’t trust an employee who encourages others in state government to break the law.

Wall has since landed a job with a New Hampshire cybersecurity firm, but is still bitter about not getting his DCI job back.

He said the book will detail how the DOJ botched the youth prison investigation. He said he asked the agency to look into the abuse allegations in early 2015. Justice officials reluctantly agreed to investigate but assigned only one agent on a part-time basis to the case. They eventually assigned a second agent on a part-time basis during the summer of 2015, but they never pulled any incident reports or inmate medical reports, Wall said.

The agency finally sent dozens of agents into the prison in December after an inmate got his foot slammed in a door during a scuffle with guards and lost two toes.

A federal judge in July ordered staff at the prison to reduce their use of pepper spray and cut back on shackling inmates and placing them in solitary confinement. The order stemmed from a class-action lawsuit The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the Juvenile Law Center filed on inmates’ behalf. An FBI investigation continues.

Wall also said he plans to write about how Walker’s appointees were tightly controlled and had to get permission to promote any potential stories to the media, as well as about how the DOJ “bullied” him out of his administrator job so Schimel could give a person of his own choosing the position.

Asked for a response, Walker spokesman Tom Evenson said in an email that Wall’s replacement as DOC secretary, Jon Litscher, is widely respected and Walker is glad to have him in the administration. He did not address Wall’s allegations.

Schimel aide Johnny Koremenos said in an email that Wall hasn’t accepted that he cost himself his job by trying to circumvent the state’s open records law.

Asked for a response to Wall’s allegations that the youth prison investigation was inadequate, Koremenos said in a text message that the agency would not get into a back-and-forth discussion with Wall through the media.

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