Some violent youth offenders to move to Angola; eventually move to Jetson Center near Baker
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Officials will move some of the violent juvenile offenders from Bridge City Center for Youth to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, confirmed Gov. John Bel Edwards during a news conference on Tuesday, July 19.
Officials said these juveniles will eventually move to the Jetson Center near Baker once a portion of it has been renovated to house them. The plan is to put up a new fence, add surveillance cameras, and install air conditioning.
Youth will remain under the authority of the Office of Juvenile Justice during the transition, added officials.
The governor said about half of those housed at Bridge City will be sent within the next month to Angola, where a special wing has been prepared to hold them.
The announcement came after six juveniles escaped Bridge City over the weekend. It was at least the fifth time since November that someone escaped the facility. One of those most recent escapees is accused of shooting a man during a carjacking attempt in New Orleans.
“The escapes from Bridge City cannot and will not continue,” said Edwards. “Recent disturbances within the facility have led to problems in the surrounding community and that is not acceptable. We are determined to restore safety and security. It is clear that there was a violation of the approved plan of action for additional security at Bridge City this past weekend, and we are taking swift action to correct that, while also focusing on short-term and long-term solutions that will bring greater safety not only to the youth in OJJ’s system but also the community near Bridge City.”
“We acknowledge that we’re facing some major challenges with the Bridge City center itself, but we are working every day to address them for the safety of our youth, staff, and the outside communities,” said OJJ Deputy Sec. Bill Sommers. “We are grateful for the partnership with all of the agencies helping to address the staffing and housing issues, and we believe this is the best option at this time to meet this urgent situation. We are committed to doing what is in the best interest of protecting the youth, our staff, and the community.”
“Our Probation and Parole officers and correctional officers continue to provide supplementary support in OJJ facilities as needed,” said Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary Jimmy Le Blanc. “Our main focus is the safety and security of juvenile residents, staff, and the community. To accomplish this, we are building a space at Jetson that provides secure and safe housing for juveniles with disciplinary issues, including programming, counseling, and opportunities to work toward step down level of custody.”
There are currently 50 juvenile inmates at Bridge City but that number could change by the time the plan takes effect.
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