The Investigators: Police release arrested teen due to lack of housing

The Investigators: Police release arrested teen due to lack of housing

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - "The juvenile system in Louisiana is horrible," said Brusly Police Chief Jonathan Lefeaux.

Chief Lefeaux had some harsh words for the state's juvenile center. He said the juvenile detention center has no room to house any more young inmates, so he often has to just release them. He said a good example of this was a recent call about a stolen truck.

"We went ahead and booked the three juveniles. We had to go ahead and release them back to their parents. There was not any room in any of the jails here because the juvenile facilities were filled, so we couldn't house them last night," said Chief Lefeaux.

On Monday, November 21, Brusly Police and several other agencies were involved a pursuit involving the same 16-year-old, after they arrested three adults.

"We did not know it at the time, but it was the one we released yesterday evening, one of the three. He was back. He gathered up three of his friends, supposedly he had sold a dirt bike and he was coming back to get it today," said Chief Lefeaux.

A police report stated the arrested adults said they were taken to the scene by the juvenile to buy two dirt bikes that were on scene for $300 each. One dirt bike was hidden in a large ditch and the other was approximately 20 feet away, hidden in the cane field. Both dirt bikes were reported stolen on November 20.

Police said the teen is accused of stealing those bikes Sunday, hiding them, and then going back Monday to pick them up because he was released by police due to no available housing.

The 9News Investigators found the same 16-year-old was arrested last Wednesday by the Baton Rouge Police Department for a vehicle burglary that occurred around 3 a.m. He was charged with a juvenile curfew violation and resisting an officer for allegedly running from officers, requiring them to use a taser him. BRPD then released him to his mother after she signed a custodial agreement.

Brusly Police arrested him Sunday for felony possession of stolen property, but subsequently had to release him. On Monday, Brusly Police arrested the same teen on four counts of felony stolen property and one count of resisting arrest. More charges could be coming after police conclude their investigation.

"I'm going to do everything I can to get him housed in some type of facility tonight. There's no way we can release him again like this," said Chief Lefeaux.

Ascension Parish has a felony warrant out for the same teen, wanted for one count of felony simple burglary and two counts of felony theft of a motor vehicle. The chief said something has to change because he believes juveniles are learning the system.

"Like this fellow here, he has learned the system. He knows there's nowhere to put him. Go hang out at the police department for half a day, might go hang out at the detention center, and then his parents will come get him. He's learned, 'Well I guess I'm not going to get it any real trouble until I'm an adult so I will just keep going,'" said Chief Lefeaux.

The Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice released the following statement:

OJJ has not released youth from secure care custody due to overcrowding. Per juvenile justice best practice, all youth placed in the custody of OJJ by the courts are regularly reviewed for their eligibility to be served in a less restrictive environment.

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