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Pleas for a juvenile jail on the west side of the river have the attention of lawmakers

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PORT ALLEN - Calls for a juvenile jail on the west side of the Mississippi River have the attention of a state lawmaker.

For more than a year, law enforcement and prosecutors in Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee parishes have sounded the alarm about the need for a facility to house the worst of law-breaking juveniles. Those kids who commit violent crimes are currently having to be shipped off to Alabama at a cost of $600 per day because there's no facility that will house them in the state of Louisiana.

"It's going to be one of my priorities to get something figured out. And I don't know if it will be multiple pieces of legislation or one, but we will best try to address this issue," State Senator Rick Ward said.

Following murders and shootings involving juveniles, Iberville Sheriff Brett Stassi, West Baton Rouge Zack Simmers, Pointe Coupee Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux and District Attorney Tony Clayton have all repeatedly expressed the problem.

"The ideal situation is you have a facility that can serve the tri-parish area," Ward said. "At the very least, Iberville, West Baton Rouge and Pointe Coupee."

Money could be the biggest challenge. Ward said they will be looking for state dollars to build the facility. But, they also need long-term recurring revenue with local dollars. There's no solid estimate on how much it could cost, but it will feature an education component with hopes of them getting rehabilitation as well.

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