Sunday, June 8, 2008

Juvenile Justice, Louisiana Style

Remember the promise of SB 749, which ostensibly sought to address the needs of juvenile detainees by closing the humanitarian nightmare that is the Jetson Center for Youth in Baton Rouge? A refresher:
Under SB 749, Jetson would shut its doors by June 30, 2009. A provision would allow for an extension until November 2009 if problems develop.

The state would initially open three, 48-bed secure juvenile facilities in different regions into which Jetson residents would be transferred. No more than 12 juveniles could be housed in a unit.
That's a lie. The truth is that SB 749 contained no plan to establish more centers. It provided only a plan to close the Jetson Center.

The Bridge City Center for Youth (near New Orleans) will increase its population by over 50% in the next month thanks to this legislation. The harsh reality: Bridge City Center for Youth has too few guards to accomodate its existing population. One reason for that is probably Bobby Jindal's current hiring freeze on all state personnel.

If new or transferred staff appear at BCCY to ameliorate some of the problems associated with overcrowding, I'll let you know. I'll also try to find out if the State is ceasing to imprison adolescents for offenses such as possesion of marijuana or stealing a family member's necklace. But at the moment, it looks as though Louisiana's antidote to dangerous conditions for juvenile detainees in Baton Rouge is simply to recreate those conditions elsewhere.

No comments: