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Disagreement over housing 17-year-old offenders creates confusion as new law looms

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BATON ROUGE - Baton Rouge City-Parish officials want 17-year-olds transferred from the Baton Rouge Juvenile Detention Facility to the East Baton Rouge Parish Prison by Friday.

Currently, there are seven 17-year-olds at the juvenile detention center. WBRZ reported that the facility is nearly always at capacity and frequently unable to keep offenders in custody. Currently, the detention facility can hold 38 juveniles.

"Moving the 17-year-olds to an adult facility still falls under PREA, which says that they have to be in position to not be assaulted or impacted by the adult population, with no sight and sound from adults or children at all times, unless they are being escorted by an officer," Hurst said.

Opponents of the move argue the East Baton Rouge Parish prison has no appropriate space to place these teenagers due to decades worth of repair needed.

In a letter, East Baton Rouge Sheriff Sid Gautreaux stated that "this national PRA standard demands facility requirements that the East Baton Rouge Parish prison does not have," and "The facility design of the parish prison does not provide a secure area that meets the PREA requirements."

Baton Rouge Mayor-President Broome responded, saying the sheriff must comply by Friday. She said a short list of fixes will be made to house the youthful offenders in the parish prison by the end of the week.

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