BAKER, LA (WAFB) - An early morning transfer of juvenile offenders from the Jetson Center for Youth in Baker on January 26 is still having a major impact on many involved.
"This entire situation was a total fiasco," said one male employee who asked not to be identified.
The employee is one of more than one hundred Jetson workers who say the Office of Juvenile Justice met with workers at the OJJ central office on Monday to tell them future employment with the department would mean traveling to one of two youth facilities in the state.
"When you went in there it was like rolling the dice wondering what choice you were going to have it was either going to be Bridge City or Swanson," said the male employee.
The Swanson Center is located in Monroe, while Bridge City is in New Orleans. A woman who says she sat in the meeting with a family member adds workers who were assigned to Swanson have until March 1 to decide whether to accept the position. She says those assigned to Bridge City were given until Wednesday.
"You either take what we have to offer you, you use your K time or leave time or that's it," said the female employee.
The woman also says OJJ told workers choosing not to relocate to one of the two options provided would be considered job abandonment. She says the decision could be devastating for those close to retirement and unrealistic for parents with children in school locally.
"They know they need their job and need to take care of their family. That still wouldn't be an option for them because they have children they have to take care of," said the female employee.
The well being of the boys at Jetson was the reason OJJ said the transfer was necessary explaining Jetson is not conducive to OJJ's therapeutic model because of its correctional facility layout. Many of the affected employees believe OJJ had to know for quite some time a change was needed.
"You knew it wasn't working but you accepted that, you did that and now the 154 workers have to pay for that," said the male employee.
WAFB spoke to an OJJ official by phone Monday who confirmed the dates Jetson employees have until to make their decisions however our request for an on-camera interview was not granted.