‘I have no sympathy’: Wife of shot carjacking victim wants Bridge City youth inmates transferred now

Attorneys opposing transfer to Angola seek injunction to block governor’s plan
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 10:56 PM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The wife of the man allegedly shot and carjacked last month by an escapee from the Bridge City Center for Youth said the lax oversight of inmates at the facility has torn her family apart.

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced the upcoming transfer of violent juvenile inmates from Bridge City to a temporary, retrofitted facility at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola on July 19. But the governor’s office said Monday that no youth inmates have been transferred to Angola so far.

The proposed move was spurred by the escape of six inmates from the facility, at least the fourth escape so far this year.

“They would have the protection and the programs in place, and the containment, that should have been at Bridge City,” the victim’s wife said. “It’s just a matter of geography.”

She said her husband, who has been hospitalized in critical condition since he was shot July 17, will undergo a tracheotomy on Tuesday. She’s been at his bedside nearly every day.

“Every day is a new challenge. It’s pins and needles every minute,” she said.

Law enforcement sources said 17-year-old Kendell Myles, one of the six juvenile inmate escapees, shot and carjacked the 59-year-old man.

The victim’s wife told Fox 8 she met with Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams, who told her he planned to try Myles as an adult. Fox 8 asked Williams’ office for confirmation, but did not receive a response.

“I want justice. You do adult crimes, you serve adult time. That’s the way it should be,” she said. “I have no sympathy. I have no empathy. My family’s never going to be the same.”

The group Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) has opposed the Angola transfer plan, saying the governor’s office and Office of Juvenile Justice has not fully explained how the juvenile inmates’ education and health care would be addressed in the new facility. A set of civil rights attorneys filed a lawsuit against the Governor and OJJ on the same basis.

“OJJ has been unable to provide the safety and the rehabilitation and services for the young people in a facility designed for young people. How are they going to be able to ensure there’s enough staff when OJJ is already struggling with staff?” asked Gina Womack, Executive Director of FFLIC.

“No one is going to win from locking up kids and throwing away the key, and we already know that prison isn’t a deterrent.”

The groups plan to hold a press conference Tuesday, after meeting with the judge in the case. They said the planned transfer does not solve ongoing problems at OJJ, such as understaffing.

“We’ve reached out and tried to have conversations to talk about alternatives to moving the young people, and didn’t really receive a good response,” Womack said.

But the wife of the man who was shot said transferring the violent offenders to Angola would at least get them away from the New Orleans metro area. She questioned why they have been housed at Bridge City in the first place.

“My husband is up there right now, fighting for his life, minute to minute, for every breath. That’s not inconsequential,” she said. “You want to act like an adult, you’re going to be treated like one.”

Gov. Edwards’ office has not released a timeline for when the inmates will be transferred.

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