10 Juvenile Offenders Now in Area of Louisiana Adult Prison

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BRIDGE CITY, La. (AP) — Ten high-risk juvenile offenders were transferred early Tuesday from the Bridge City Center for Youth in suburban New Orleans to a temporary facility housed at the state’s maximum-security prison north of Baton Rouge, authorities said.

Republican Sen. Pat Connick, of Marrero, whose district includes the juvenile jail, said the inmates left the facility for the prison in Angola at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, WWL-TV reported.

“This is good news for the Bridge City community and hopefully it will give those juveniles who want to change their lives a chance to do so,” Connick said.

The juvenile facility is not capable of housing violent offenders, he added.

“This facility was not designed to house these types of juveniles. It is also, I think, going to be good for the juveniles who are transferred out. This is going to be a wake-up call for them,” said Connick.

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The transfer occurred after more than two dozen escapes from the Bridge City youth center since April 2021 and riots inside it throughout the year. In July, an escapee allegedly carjacked and shot a man in New Orleans. He was later caught after crashing a stolen vehicle.

The teens are being kept in an old death row holding facility that once housed female inmates and is separated from the adult inmates at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Inside, the two-story facility can house up to 24 young people. Officials said the expectation is to never hold that many at one time.

Each teen will have their own cell and will be allowed to complete schoolwork, receive medical care, and have space for recreational time, WVUE-TV reported.

“We’ve been busy at work the last 60 or 90 days really trying to get this space up and ready for us,” said Curtis Nelson, assistant secretary for the Office of Juvenile Justice.

Officials put up a black fabric that completely wraps around the building to ensure nothing can be heard or seen from any of the other inmates on campus. The closest adult facility is nearly 1.5 miles away from where the teens will be housed.

“We feel very confident that our young people will be able to be housed here without having interaction with any adult inmates,” Nelson said.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the relocation plan months ago. The decision prompted a lawsuit filed by activists, families of the incarcerated teens and attorneys on behalf of the juveniles contending the trauma of being housed at Angola would be irreversible.

U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick, however, said that “while locking children in cells at night at Angola is untenable, the threat of harm the youngsters present to themselves, and others, is intolerable. The untenable must yield to the intolerable.”

Edwards has said the juveniles will be transferred again to the Jetson Center for Youth in Baker once renovations there are complete.

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