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Seven 17-year-old EBR inmates transferred to Jackson Parish Correctional Center following new law

1 month 4 weeks 1 day ago Monday, April 22 2024 Apr 22, 2024 April 22, 2024 11:23 AM April 22, 2024 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE — Seven 17-year-olds previously incarcerated at the chronically-full East Baton Rouge Parish Juvenile Detention Center have been transferred to the Jackson Parish Correctional Center in Jonesboro as of Friday, officials said Monday morning.

The prisoners' move to Jackson Parish comes after a new state law went into effect Friday that classifies 17-year-olds as adults who can go to local jails if they are arrested. 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.

The 17-year-old offenders will be held in Jonesboro until East Baton Rouge Parish can provide an adequate facility in compliance with federal PREA laws.

Prior to Friday's change, City-Parish employees worked with the Parish Prison warden to create an available prison unit for 17-year-olds in the Parish Prison, said Mark Armstrong, spokesperson for the City-Parish.

"Regarding any future arrests of 17-year-olds, now considered adults under Louisiana law governing criminal bookings, we understand that the Sheriff's Office will be working with each arresting agency to determine placement for those 17-year-old adults," Armstrong said.

As of Monday, no new 17-year-olds have been booked by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office.

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

City-Parish Mayor Sharon Weston Broome and Sheriff Sid Gautreaux had traded pointed letters in the lead up to the law going into effect, 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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