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After holding kids at Angola, Louisiana juvenile justice system says new Swanson center is open

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MONROE — The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice said Thursday it had opened its new Swanson Center for Youth, which is intended to accommodate youths who had been spread among a number of facilities statewide, including on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

The facility can hold 72 youth in individual rooms, plus offer one-on-one services to help young criminals move into general populations.

Holding juvenile offenders at Angola triggered a court fight last year. U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick had said a facility with a reputation as one of the nation's toughest prisons was no place to hold youths. Youths were sent to a facility on the Angola grounds — away from the regular population — after causing problems at other youth facilities.

Dick said Angola didn't create a proper environment for the juveniles housed there.

"The facility screams 'prison,'" Dick said in an order last year. She said the unit stationed there was "decidedly punitive and not rehabilitative."

Youths were removed from Angola late last summer and moved to a facility in Jackson Parish pending the opening of the new Swanson center.


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