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After riot & repeated escapes, state will temporarily move some juvenile inmates to Angola
BRIDGE CITY - Officials announced a plan Tuesday to temporarily house some of the state's most violent juvenile offenders at the state penitentiary in Angola amid struggles to handle the teens.
"First off let me start by stating the obvious, what happened this past weekend at Bridge City was completely unacceptable," Governor John Bel Edwards said in reference to the 6 inmates who escaped last weekend.
During a news conference, Edwards said some teens housed at the Bridge City Center for Youth, which has been plagued by frequent jailbreaks in recent months, will temporarily relocate to the state prison to help relieve the load on the struggling juvenile facility.
While housed at Angola, the juveniles will be kept in a separate structure from the adult inmates. The governor said the move is temporary while the state prepares a more long-term solution: renovating Jetson Correctional Center in Baker to house those juveniles.
Just an hour before Tuesday's new conference at the State Capitol, Baker city officials announced a community meeting to discuss the plan to move those offenders to the area. That meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 2 at St. Paul Free Baptist Church.
"There is something to the phrase, all politics is local politics. This decision was decided during the recent Legislative Session. However, no communication or consideration was given to local leaders or residents in proximity of the facility located on Groom Road," Councilwoman Chauna Banks said in a statement.
"I speak for all the meeting hosts when I say we will spend the next couple of weeks discussing this decision with the governor’s office, so that our constituents are not only informed, but given a platform to express concerns."
Governor Edwards was confident that Baker city leaders would be assured after discussions.
"I believe when the police chief and others understand exactly what the plan is and how we plan on executing it, that will go a long way in alleviating much of the concern," he said.
Officials in Jefferson Parish have been looking into legal measures to shut down the embattled Bridge City facility after several escapes left nearby residents with severe concerns about its security.
The most recent escape at the Bridge City facility came this past weekend and led to a 59-year-old being carjacked and shot, but escapes have been prominent and earlier this year a riot caused a concerned uproar about the center's security.
The governor attributed the continued problems at the Bridge City Center to a failure of the facility's leadership and mishandling of additional security resources. Three Office of Juvenile Justice employees were placed on leave after the latest escape, the governor said Tuesday.
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