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Taxpayers doling out thousands to house teenage troublemakers out of state

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PLAQUEMINE- There are hardly any beds in the state of Louisiana available for juveniles who commit violent crimes in parishes that don't have stand alone juvenile detention centers, according to law enforcement in our area.

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi said his parish is having to spend nearly $300 per day to house them out of state.

"This is one of the biggest problems we face today," Stassi said.

Stassi said the problem once again was exposed a couple of days ago.

"We had a young man the other day that we arrested for aggravated assault on a deputy," Stassi said. "We called all the sheriffs in the state none of them had room for him. We wound up bringing this person to Alabama, an eight hour ride, to house them."

Stassi said it's not just the cost of having to have the juveniles stay, but the resources that are used to transport them back and forth for court appearances.

Earlier this year, 18th JDC District Attorney Tony Clayton said the problem needed to be addressed by the legislature.

"I'm asking the legislature to convene immediately to fix this juvenile problem... and how do you fix it," Clayton said. "Give us a facility where we can pick them up, and detach them from a situation, educate them or whatever you want us to do. But don't put an ankle bracelet on them and send them home."

In West Baton Rouge Parish, the problem is the same. A 14-year-old was arrested for murdering Jazzimine Woods in May. To date, taxpayers have shelled out more than $26,000 to have that juvenile housed in Alabama.

"It puts a burdern on all law enforcement agencies," Stassi said.

That burden won't be fixed anytime soon as there are strict guidelines for juvenile facilities. They need nurses, teachers and other staff in place for juveniles. Until that happens, taxpayers in some parishes will keep paying to house our state's troubled teens in other states.

"When they murder somebody, we have to have a place available to get them out of society," Stassi said.

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