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Louisiana's troubled teens unwelcome in Alabama after causing riot at facility this week

2 months 3 weeks 6 days ago Friday, July 08 2022 Jul 8, 2022 July 08, 2022 6:44 PM July 08, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

DOTHAN - At least 14 troubled teens from Louisiana were kicked out of an Alabama jail aimed at rehabilitating kids following a riot they caused this week.

District Attorney Tony Clayton and the West Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office said they were notified Thursday to come pick up the juveniles. Over the past couple of years, local jurisdictions have been sending troubled teens to Alabama because there are no facilities in Louisiana to take them.

"Essentially, they told us our kids are too bad to be housed there," said Major Zack Simmers with the West Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office. "Too bad for jail, and our hands are tied behind our backs. We don't know what to do."

One of the teens that was arrested is a 14-year-old accused of murdering a teen in Plaquemine. The victim, Tramone McGinnis, was shot in the head in January.

District Attorney Tony Clayton said he had to have an emergency meeting with a judge Thursday to figure out what to do with the teens.

Clayton said the situation highlights the enormity of the situation between troubled teens and the lack of a place to house them. A set of failures by the state allowed this to happen. Clayton said the amount of escapes and the lack of control at the Office of Juvenile Justice facilities in Louisiana shows something needs to change.

"I'm beginning to think that OJJ stands for 'oh, it's just a joke,'" Clayton said. "The way that they handle juveniles in this state, it's time for them to be held accountable for their job."

Clayton and others are pleading for lawmakers to take action. Out of the 14 juveniles that had to be picked up from Alabama, two are from Clayton's jurisdiction. One was released on an ankle monitor. The 14-year-old accused of murder was sent to the Baton Rouge juvenile jail — a facility that has its own problems. The WBRZ Investigative Unit has been logging escapes and riots there, too.

"Come on, legislature. We've got a lot of money, give us some," Clayton said. "West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee, Iberville, Assumption and Ascension, we don't have a place to house our juveniles. Once they are adjudicated, they go to the state, but prior to that, they belong to us, and we have to do something."

Until something changes, Clayton says his plan might get the state to finally hear their pleas.

"Look, judge, send them to the OJJ office in Baton Rouge," Clayton said. "Send them on the steps there, and leave them. It's their job to do something with these kids. We are in a crisis."

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