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EBRSO: 17-year-olds arrested in EBR to be placed in Jackson Parish Correctional Center

3 months 1 day 7 hours ago Friday, April 19 2024 Apr 19, 2024 April 19, 2024 1:39 PM April 19, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - Parish Prison will not take 17-year-olds arrested in East Baton Rouge Parish, officials said Friday afternoon.

According to EBRSO officials, an alternative location has been found at Jackson Parish Correctional Center in Jonesboro until the city-parish can provide an adequate facility in compliance with federal PREA laws. The timing of the move is currently unknown.

Previously, in September, the Office of Juvenile Justice moved juvenile offenders from Angola to the Jackson Parish Correctional Center.

Earlier in the day, the jail had planned to permit 17-year-olds to be held in Central Booking at the jail with guards assigned to carefully monitor.

The confusion over where arrested 17-year-olds will go stems from a new state law taking effect Friday. It classifies 17-year-olds as adults who can go to local jails if they are arrested.

City-parish officials wanted to move seven 17-year-olds from the troubled and chronically-full Juvenile Detention Center to Parish Prison. Baton Rouge Police had planned to book any newly-arrested 17-year-olds at the prison starting Friday, authorities said.

Sheriff's Office spokeswoman Casey Hicks said Friday afternoon that city-parish officials had acknowledged that the prison isn't properly configured to hold 17-year-olds safely.

Mark Armstrong, spokesman for Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome, said the city-parish's position has not changed. He did not elaborate.

Broome and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux had traded pointed letters over the past week, each setting out their agency's positions.

Gautreaux wrote that federal rules to reduce prison rape require that youthful offenders be kept away from adult offenders, far enough away that they can't see or hear them. Portions of the prison, Gautreaux wrote, is in such disrepair that they are completely closed.

Broome wrote that the 17-year-olds must be moved to comply with the new state law. The new law reverses a 2016 move that had raised the age for adult prosecution in most cases to 18.

“We are glad that the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office is transferring to an adult prison facility those 17-year-olds charged as adults who are currently in our juvenile detention facility," Broome said. "We have continued to comply with the law throughout this process, including tireless work by our staff to prepare necessary accommodations inside our parish prison for these 17-year-olds now considered adults under Louisiana’s new law. We look forward to continued cooperation with the Sheriff’s Office in housing 17-year-olds arrested going forward."

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