Gov. Jindal calls for more juvenile justice reforms

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The Governor called for more juvenile justice reforms Friday. He plans to revamp an existing program and create another one.

Per capita, Louisiana has the worst incarceration rate for ages 21 and younger, but steps to reform the current juvenile justice system had the Governor, Corrections higher-ups and some legislators brainstorming in closed-door meetings all day Friday.

"Since 1998, the number of youths in secure care has dropped from 1,600 to less than 400. Despite that process, too many of our kids are slipping through the cracks resulting in more youth incarceration and youth recidivism," said Jindal.

The Governor also says he will create case management services that allows for mental health treatment for juveniles on probation; plus he vows to revamp an existing program.

"We're proposing to refocus and rededicate the families in need of services or FINS so it's more in line with its original mission to care for at risk before they end up in the juvenile justice system," said Jindal.

New Orleans area Senator J.P. Morrell reminded everyone where juvenile justice in Louisiana was just 15 years ago.

"During the 90's in Louisiana our incarceration of juveniles was on the amnesty international watch list. We were ranked up with places like Somalia and Croatia as far as how we treated our juvenile offenders," said Morrell.

The Governor says the truly corrupted juveniles will still be locked up. This program is targeting those he says can still be helped.

"There are kids that can be rehabilitated that need help that need to be accessing, whether its mental, education or other family services on the front end. This is not about violent kids this is about kids coming out of broken homes that we help them now can prevent them from becoming criminals," said Jindal.

The plan also calls for expanded mental health services for the at-risk kids.

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