NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - In true New Orleans fashion, city leaders dedicated a new school at the Youth Study Center.
"It is our hope and our prayers that this Youth Study Center is not just a place to lock more children up, but it's a place of change," Liana McMillian said.
The school is named after New Orleans native Travis Hill, a renowned trumpet player known as "Trumpet Black." Hill spent time at the detention center and served 10 years in the adult prison.
"His mission, after coming home from serving 10 years, was to make a change in his community," McMillian said.
"We have an obligation to make sure that these young people who made a bad decision that this is not the end of them," Dr. Henderson Lewis said.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the addition of the school is part of the jail reform movement to make sure the Youth Study Center has wrap-around services.
"When kids are incarcerated, even awaiting trial and out of school, when they get out, they're going to just go back to what they're doing," Landrieu said.
With a controversial debate going on about whether juveniles arrested for serious crimes should be tried as adults, Landrieu said that no matter what, they should remain in custody at the Youth Study Center.
"What we're going to do is we're going to actually add on to this facility, so that minors charged with crimes, whether they're charged as adults or not, are going to be housed here," he said.
Landrieu said the decision of whether to transfer youth offenders to the adult court is not his to make.
"I'm not staying out of it, I'm just saying it's the DA's decision and it's not my job to make that call. My job is to make sure irrespective of what the district attorney does, we have a place that's constitutional where these individuals can be secure," Landrieu said.
He said to make sure there's enough room for juvenile offenders, the city is adding additional beds to the facility. That's on top of the new Travis Hill School that the mayor believes will help with rehabilitation.
"Both of these are designed to reduce the incidents of crime on the streets of New Orleans as it relates to kids, and I'm really proud of it," he said.
The city plans to make a $17 million investment in the Youth Study Center to add about 28 new beds.