Milwaukee County currently pays nearly $300 per day for juvenile delinquents housed at the Copper Lake Girls School and the Lincoln Hills School for Boys. The locations present problems for family visits and have been under scrutiny for alleged indiscretions. County Executive Chris Abele has made the decision to move the Milwaukee inmates to a lower-priced facility in downtown Milwaukee: the Pfister.
Said Abele, “We can put two children per room into the Pfister for an average of $200 per night. That includes maid service and a pretty nice room.” The Pfister has 307 guest rooms, which means it could easily accommodate the young troubled people from the detention centers. For example, Lincoln Hills only has 120 beds, with roughly 90% filled by Milwaukee youth. At two per room, 200 or so Milwaukee girls and boys could be housed in 100 of the Pfister’s rooms for $100 per night.
Abele suggests that the county provide $80 per kid per day in food credits for on-site dining. This means that the youngsters would have to learn how to use budgeting skills in order to eat each day. While one inmate might want Maryland Crab Cakes at the Mason Street Grill, he will learn that the $17.50 might be more wisely spent on $16 Herb Seared Chicken at The Cafe at the Pfister. Perhaps a room-service Brioche French Toast for $11, or an $18 Zaffiro’s “Cracker Style Crust” pizza to share. Subtle laughter at the irony, perhaps.
According to Abele, the rules will be simple: don’t leave. “These kids have a chance to experience the good life. Would you ever leave the Pfister if someone offered to let you live there?” With a full-service spa, indoor pool, 24-hour fitness center, and wifi, the answer for most of us would be a resounding “No!” School will be provided through an online charter school and can be worked on in the guest rooms or in the lobby.
Abele believes the atmosphere will be good for the young men and women, and out-of-town notables, especially the Hollywood elite, will appreciate the diversity and culture provided by young men and women attempting to be reformed at one of Milwaukee’s most notable landmarks. In addition, the youngsters will have the opportunity to intern as employees in the hospitality field. Management has said the inmates will not be allowed to interact with guests or enter occupied rooms to provide maid services, but they can learn to change light bulbs, vacuum the lobby, and deliver food to guests. Wages earned can be used for spa treatments and, extra food credits, or convenience items from the Pfister Gift Shop or Boutique B’Lou (fine women’s apparel).
Family members can jump on the 30 and visit in the lobby, but inmates will not be able to invite anyone up to their rooms. “It’s kind of like Shangri-la,” Abele suggested. Some say it’s more like the Hotel California, where inmates can check out any time they want but can never leave. However, even those people would not actually leave if given a sentence to stay. The County Executive’s office has been overrun with applications to work as floor monitors / RAs, who can leave for up to 8 hours per day in rotating shifts. Even Milwaukee Police officers have volunteered. If this Milwaukee Experiment works, similar programs may be established at other top-notch hotels, like the Trump Hotels that currently have empty rooms and plummeting bookings, according to NBC. President Trump would not comment on the idea, but he has said that inner cities are a disaster, so pairing two disasters could make sense.