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HomeBreakingCorey Proulx: Beloved Wisconsin Youth Counselor Dies After Lincoln Hills Attack

Corey Proulx: Beloved Wisconsin Youth Counselor Dies After Lincoln Hills Attack

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“My prayers go out to the family of the deceased staff member. This death could have prevented by the department” – Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corrections.

Corey Proulx, the 49-year-old youth counselor at Lincoln Hills who was killed after the Department of Corrections says a 16-year-old inmate assaulted him and another staffer, was remembered on June 26 for his compassion and smile.

“It is with tremendous sadness and regret that I announce the loss of a dedicated professional, colleague, and friend in the line of duty,” said Jared Hoy, Department of Corrections (DOC) secretary, in a news release. “A career in corrections, with its dual mission to protect the public and guide individuals toward rehabilitation, can be demanding and requires so many sacrifices for our staff and our families, and Corey made the ultimate sacrifice. Our DOC family is mourning Corey’s loss, and we are keeping all of his family members and friends in our thoughts.”

An executive order from Gov. Tony Evers, lowering flags to half-staff, named Corey Proulx as the deceased staff member, and said he “served the DOC as a youth counselor, having originally joined the department in 2020 before leaving briefly in 2021 and returning to the department on April 24, 2023.”

Proulx’s death comes as Evers’ Department of Corrections is in complete meltdown. Earlier this month, nine State of Wisconsin employees, including the warden of a major state prison in Waupun, were arrested in connection with two prison deaths, the Dodge County Sheriff announced.

Corey proulx
Corey proulx

In a press release, Rep. Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) said, “My prayers go out to the family of the deceased staff member. This death could have prevented by the department. DOC has been working on changing one of their administrative rules to make it harder for staff at Lincoln Hills to do their job. This is a prime example of why staff need the appropriate tools to keep themselves and other incarcerated individuals safe.”

Schraa said in the news release:

“With the death of this staff member, along with the events that have taken place at Waupun Correctional, it’s evident that the Legislature needs to take action and provide additional oversight. Since 2019, I have asked the department if they were in crisis mode. Then Secretary Kevin Carr did not acknowledge the state of distress within the DOC. Numerous times, I told Secretary Carr and my legislative colleagues that something needed to change. Due to our pleas being unanswered, we have a deceased staff member, nine DOC employees facing criminal charges, and four deceased inmates. Individuals who work in DOC, people who have been incarcerated, and family members of inmates have been contacting my office with their concerns over the last several weeks.”

“My fellow committee members and the public need to know the gravity of the situation in the Department of Corrections. I intend on conducting an informational hearing as quickly as possible to allow these individuals to have an opportunity to share their stories with not just the committee, but with the people in charge of the department. Lives need to be protected.”

The arrests came after a series of serious mismanagement problems in Evers’ Corrections Department, including soaring staffing shortages, an over-capacity prison with “deplorable” conditions, massive early releases of inmates who often re-offend, a failure to revoke thousands of offenders who commit new crimes while out on probation or parole supervision, a systemic failure to notify victims’ families of murderers’ parole releases, and high-level staff turnover.

And now, the death of a beloved youth counselor.


Corey Proulx Was Remembered for His Commitment to Service

“Proulx was known for his compassion toward others and his commitment to service, and he had a lasting, positive impact on youth and his colleagues at the department, among many others.” the executive order says. “Proulx was also a devoted fiancé, father, son, loved one, and friend of so many, and the people of Wisconsin join Proulx’s surviving family and friends in honoring his memory and mourning his tragic loss; and…the impact of Proulx’s life and service will not be forgotten.”

Proulx’s Facebook page has filled with tributes and prayers. “When you work in the DOC you become a family. I will never forget your smile and laugh. You were one of the greats and there is a big hole in our family now. We love you. Rest easy we’ll take it from here brother,” wrote one person.

“We miss you so much already,” wrote another person. “Corey, you made such an impact on everyone you knew. Fly high and rest in peace,” another person wrote on Proulx’s page.

Another person wrote, “This is so wrong in so many ways and we all feel the pain of the loss of a friend and a family member. I hope your family will be alright. I know this has hit some of us harder than expected. The way I see it the man is a hero.

Rep. Cindi Duchow wrote, “I’m deeply saddened at the death of DOC Youth Counselor Corey Proulx, who was assaulted while on duty at Lincoln Hills and has now succumbed to his injuries. I hope you’ll join me in praying for his family, friends, and coworkers.”

State Sen. Van Wanggaard wrote, “I am heartbroken by Corey’s murder. The impact of and grief over his death, rightfully extends beyond his family to the broader Corrections and public safety communities. By all accounts, Corey was not just a beloved family member, but also a treasured member of the whole community. I ask that everyone keep those that cared for Corey in your thoughts and prayers, as I will.”

On June 25, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections said in a press release that two Lincoln Hills School staff members “were injured when a 16-year-old youth attacked them around 8 p.m. Monday night.”

One staff member “was assaulted in the residence hall when the youth returned from outdoor recreation. The staff member was taken to an area hospital to receive medical treatment before being released,” the release said.

“The youth shortly thereafter encountered and assaulted a second staff member, causing the staff member to hit their head on the concrete. The staff member was taken to an area hospital to receive medical treatment and remains in critical condition at this time,” the release says.

“As with any assault incident at the school, the incident was referred to the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department. Lincoln Hills School is currently operating normally though some youth were moved to a different residence hall due to the ongoing investigation,” the release said.

“No other youth were involved in this isolated incident. The 16-year-old youth who was involved did not have any injuries requiring medical treatment. The department is working to move the youth to a suitable facility,” the release said.

Lincoln Hills School, Superintendent Klint Trevino wrote the following, according to the press release: “Corey was a dedicated and compassionate member of our team, always striving to make a positive impact on the lives of the young individuals we serve. His commitment to our mission was unwavering, and he will be deeply missed by all of us.”

Corrections data shows Lincoln Hills has 50 youth. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that “the staff vacancy rate was about 35% at the youth prison because of unanticipated staff leave, according to an outside monitor’s report. But without vacations considered, the vacancy rates were nearly 0%.” The newspaper quoted Schraa as saying vacancy rates have improved, adding that “he doesn’t believe that understaffing is to blame for the attack. He said he even heard reports that the 16-year-old had been seen in the days leading up to the attack playing cards with a counselor.”

 

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