Law enforcement looks to lawmakers for help building juvenile correctional facility on west side of river

Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office
Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriff's Office(WAFB)
Published: Jan. 18, 2022 at 10:08 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 18, 2022 at 5:54 PM CST
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POINTE COUPEE PARISH, La. (WAFB) - Over on the west side of the river, officials and lawmakers are coming together to hopefully find a solution on where to house juveniles once they commit a crime.

“Just last night in Simmesport, a lady’s house was burnt. A day before, two 17-year-olds went and robbed and stole her four-wheelers and bikes. Last night, they burnt her house with her in it,” explained State Rep. Roy Adams.

“As a matter of fact, three weeks ago, a juvenile killed his dad on a Wednesday. He was out Friday to attend his father’s funeral,” added 18th JDC District Attorney Tony Clayton.

Time and time again, law enforcement says juvenile crime is up, but on the west side of the Mississippi River, they have no facility to hold those who get caught breaking the law.

“We need a place to hold them instead of sending them to Alabama, and then coming back to pick them up 48 hours to adjudicate them. So, we need a place to hold them, but we also need a place to rehabilitate them,” said Pointe Coupee Sheriff Rene’ Thibodeaux.

Rural parishes, like Pointe Coupee and many others, don’t necessarily have the resources or the funding to set up a facility specifically for juvenile offenders. It’s why they are looking to lawmakers to hopefully help them out during the next session.

“It’s not getting the facility alone, it’s how do you handle the cost of it going forward because we have seen on after the other be built up and in a very short period of time end up closing down,” explained Senator Rick Ward.

Ward also suggested looking into current laws that affect juveniles, such as the amount of time they can be held before being adjudicated or determining if they have committed an adult level crime. Lawmakers and officials also talked about adding a rehabilitation component if they could build a facility.

“I think the legislature has to grab this bull by the horns and something has to be done,” added Clayton.

Whether their efforts result in a new facility or not, law enforcement is also turning to the community and parents to hold children accountable and keep them on the right path.

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