Jetson Youth Center workers: We were misled by the OJJ

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - State Representative Dalton Honore spoke to a room of about 40 workers with the Jetson Youth Center Thursday evening at the Scotlandville Library. Honore shared what he says he was told by Office of Juvenile Justice Deputy Secretary Dr. Mary Livers for the transfer of all 76 boys at Jetson to the Swanson Center in Monroe and Bridge City in New Orleans. Workers in the crowd quickly countered that the facility at Jetson is not to blame but rather the leadership within OJJ.

"You want to tell me Jetson's wrong?" asked one worker who asked not to be identified. "No Jetson's not wrong the head is wrong."

Many on hand also questioned OJJ's motive for transferring the boys from Jetson. Another worker who asked not to be identified said he doesn't understand how the department could send the majority of youth offenders from Jetson to the Swanson Center where he says it is documented that one offender sexually assaulted another just over a month ago.

"How is that safe to move 68 to another place where a kid was sexually assaulted?" asked the man.

OJJ declined WAFB's request for an interview for the second time in four days but a spokesperson did send an email confirming a sexual assault at Swanson in December and an investigation of the incident.

"Results of the internal investigation have been communicated to Monroe Police Department. The Monroe Police Department's criminal investigation is ongoing," read the email.

Honore says he feels for the workers who will soon be losing their jobs but adds he agrees with the decision to move the boys from Jetson.

"It was a dangerous place up there based on the information I got and talking to some of the employees but it's been an ongoing discussion with inspector general's office for several months," said Honore.

The workers on hand also received some words of encouragement from their local union representative who urged those on hand to stand together and seek the advice of legal counsel. That is a strategy most agreed to do as early as next week.

"There are things they have done to people that were, they had legal rights but they still chose to be punitive, go against their policy and go against federal policies," said one worker.

Copyright 2014 WAFB. All rights reserved.