District Attorney Tony Clayton proposing detention center to curb juvenile crime, and pay increase for law enforcement

Tackling juvenile crime in West Baton Rouge

BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - District Attorney for the 18th Judicial District, Tony Clayton, is never one to hold back.

“You forfeit your right to be with the rest of us, when you take a weapon out, and anoint yourself God, and take the life from another human being. I don’t care how old you are,” said Clayton.

Some strong words for those young people in the parishes he serves, that are up to no good.

Clayton plans to make a plea to the voters of Iberville, Pointe Coupee, and West Baton Rouge parishes, to possible re-align some of the existing millages, and create a juvenile detention facility. It would be located at an abandoned school, out in the northern part of Pointe Coupee Parish.

“We’re growing here on the west side, and we’re developing subdivisions and things of that nature. So, if we can do something about the juvenile crime deal, I think we’ll have more development,” said Clayton.

With just about a month on the job under his belt, Clayton says the armed vehicle burglaries and shootings by teenagers has got to stop.

“If he’s (or she’s) out there breaking in houses, taking guns, pointing guns at homeowners, and shooting the first person that sees him. Then I think you should not be able to walk around with the rest of us,” said Clayton.

But there’s a shortage of places to house juvenile offenders in his area.

So, officials have to send the juveniles to either a facility in maybe Lafayette or put an ankle bracelet on them and send them back home.

“But I believe if we had our own facility, some 250 beds, that we would put a dent in it. Because if those young folks knew that knew we weren’t going to play with them, and we’re going to pick them up on a burglary, and that they were going to be detained, then that would put a chilling effect on their activity, and that’s what we’re looking to do,” said Clayton.

Here’s a perfect example and kind of hard to believe, but just months ago, an apparent juvenile was snooping around Mr. Clayton’s law office in Port Allen, looking to possibly break into his building.

Now, to construct a detention center, he would need the voters to approve possibly re-organizing existing taxes already on the books. But assured WAFB, it would be no new taxes.

“The biggest part of it, is going to be the operations. You’re going to need psychiatrists, you’re going to need educators, and you’re going to need the security guards there. So the operational costs of it is going to be high. But I think you can offset it with the cost of money that folks will pay to house the juveniles. So, let me learn more about it, I’ll be the first to tell you I don’t know enough about it, but I can tell you this, it’s needed,” said Clayton.

Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux says it’s an ongoing problem that needs to be addressed.

“It’s hard for us to find a place for him or her. We have to look towards Lafayette, maybe one place up in Monroe or Shreveport, then there’s another place in Mississippi. The bad part about it, is to house a juvenile away from our parish, costs the taxpayers, about $200 per day,” said Sheriff Thibodeaux.

“I promise you, it’s all about keeping people safe. I have no dog in this hunt, other than the folks that put me here, and I see this problem,” said Clayton.

DA Clayton says he is also going to incorporate a plan to increase law enforcement pay in the parishes he serves, with that same re-organization of existing taxes, which would fund the detention center he is proposing.

For now, he is urging everyone to get motion lights and security cameras, to protect their homes from burglaries.

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