UPDATE: On Wednesday (Oct. 19), The Office of Juvenile Justice said in a press release that the group was actually relocated from the Bridge City Center for the Youth to Swanson Center for Youth at Monroe.
A press release from the OJJ also said that four youths from Acadiana Center for the Youth are now at St. Martinville and four youths from Swanson Center for Youth at Monroe were moved to the temporary West Feliciana Center for Youth facility.
ANGOLA, La. (WGNO) — On Tuesday morning, State Sen. Pat Connick told WGNO-TV that ten “high-risk” youths were transferred from the Bridge City Center for Youth to a temporary juvenile detention facility on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary. According to Connick, the transfer happened around 5:45 a.m.
The Office of Juvenile Justice released a new video showing the facility where young inmates from the Bridge City Center for youth will be housed. The site will be a “temporary facility,” used to rehabilitate young inmates through therapeutic services.
For months, state officials struggled to agree on where to house them with some fearing for the youth’s safety. Curtis Nelson, the assistant secretary of the Office of Juvenile Justice, said the most important thing is to make sure that the youth are safe.
“Our staff is safe, and the community is safe,” Nelson said. “So, prior to coming into the building, it required us to come in and do some renovation, installing cameras, so that we can keep eyes on the young people at all times. And so, we’ve been busy at work, probably like the last 60 to 90 days.”
Renovations also included fencing that separates the juveniles from the adult inmates.
“They have an excellent job, putting this program together, making sure that the facility at Angola is what it needs to be for the kids’ protection,” Connick said.
Some who live near the juvenile detention center don’t see it that way.
“This isn’t putting a band-aid on the problem,” Harold Brown said. “This is making the wound even bigger.”
Some Bridge City neighbors believe the transfer will increase crime in the future.
“What are those kids going to learn at Angola, one of the worst prisons in the country,” Brown questioned. “The only thing that’s going to do is make them get worse, and they’re coming out of there.”
However, Connick says the victims come first.
“They need to understand that there are victims that have been affected by the bad actions of these individuals,” Connick said. “I look out of for the victim, and if we can rehabilitate those who are causing the trouble and the crime, let’s do it.”
For the remainder of the 15 violent offenders at Bridge City, their future is up to the OJJ.
We reached out to their office about a second potential transfer and are waiting to hear back.