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Solutions tough to find after Alabama kicks Louisiana's terrible teens out of their jails

1 month 1 day 14 hours ago Monday, July 11 2022 Jul 11, 2022 July 11, 2022 6:50 PM July 11, 2022 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE- Long-term and short-term solutions are very tough to find after the State of Alabama informed Louisiana our violent juvenile offenders are too bad for their jails last week.

At least 14 of the violent juveniles were kicked out of the Alabama facility after causing a riot there. The teens were shipped off to Alabama because there were no beds in the State of Louisiana to house them. It's a growing problem that jurisdictions are having to deal with at an increased frequency.

For at least a year, the WBRZ Investigative Unit has been logging the problem before the juveniles are convicted.

In the past, we've reported that jurisdictions were paying Alabama $300 per day for each juvenile that needed to be housed there.

Former State Senator Rick Ward is very familiar with this problem. He's been working on a fix, but said something more long-term would cost a lot of money.

"If we keep going down the path we are on now, eventually some violent offender that's a juvenile will be let out of prison," Ward said. "Before they are adjudicated, they will commit another violent act, which the worst case scenario would be a murder."

Currently, Ward said an immediate fix could be finding space at an existing jail. Any unused wing of the facility would have to be isolated from adult offenders, and there would need to be teaching, counseling and other services offered that are federally required.

"It would definitely be a difficult time to go to the general public to ask for more dollars right now for anything," Ward said. "But, you also have to look at public safety, and I know a lot of families are getting where they hate to go out at night."

The problems that's facing jurisdictions across Louisiana involve teens arrested for violence before they are convicted. But, the State of Louisiana is already having issues keeping kids locked up post-conviction.

WBRZ has reported extensively on the failures at the Office of Juvenile Justice, where kids break free from the Bridge City Center for Youth near New Orleans and the St. Martinville facility.

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

With money available from the state now, the real question is being able to sustain something long-term and where does that money come from.

"You can't simply build a facility where you house them," Ward said. "You have to be able to provide services that go with it, and that's where the high cost comes in."

Two of the juveniles in Clayton's jurisdiction that were picked up from Alabama were brought back to Louisiana. One was placed into the Baton Rouge Juvenile Detention facility. Another teen was released on an ankle monitor.

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