Staffing issues could further delay transfer of violent juveniles to Angola
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The old Death Row facility at Angola should be ready to house juveniles by the end of the week, according to state officials. However, staffing issues could delay the transfer of some of Louisiana’s most violent juvenile offenders from the troubled Bridge City Center for Youth.
“I think it will be ready, but the staffing has to be brought. Until that’s done, there will be no transfers yet,” said state Sen. Patrick Connick (R-Marrero).
Meanwhile, crews at the Bridge City facility are continuing efforts to make the property more secure after a rash of breakouts in the past 11 months. Workers have cleared debris from around the perimeter fence and officials said it’s been two months since the last juvenile escaped.
Terrence Feazell said he and his Bridge City neighbors feel an extra measure of security from some of the steps being taken, including the increased Louisiana State Police presence. But he questions whether some repairs go far enough.
Sen. Connick says Gov. John Bel Edwards’ plan to transfer the most dangerous detainees to Angola will be good for the community and for the juveniles to have a better chance of rehabilitation.
“Those who want to have a better chance in life will get that chance. Right now, that’s not happening,” Connick said.
Not everyone agrees. The group Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children said in a statement they are “disgusted, outraged, and furious by the judge’s decision” to allow the transfer of juveniles to Angola, and vowed to continue their opposition to the governor’s plan.
A federal judge on Friday (Sept. 23) refused to block Gov. John Bel Edwards’ plan to transfer some of Louisiana’s most violent youth offenders to a temporary facility on the grounds of the Louisiana State Penitentiary.
Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick made it clear in a 64-page ruling that she was no great fan of sending young inmates to Angola, even if they would be housed more than a mile away from any adult prisoners and segregated from them at all times. But she concluded there was no better alternative, given the threat posed to other youth housed in Office of Juvenile Justice custody and to the public after numerous escapes from facilities such as the Bridge City Center for Youth.
“The prospect of putting a teenager to bed at night in a locked cell behind razor wire surrounded by swamps at Angola is disturbing,” Dick wrote. “Some of the children in OJJ’s care are so traumatized and emotionally and psychologically disturbed that OJJ is virtually unable to provide a secure care environment.
“While locking children in cells at night at Angola is untenable, the threat of harm these youngsters present to themselves, and others, is intolerable. The untenable must yield to the intolerable.”
It remains unclear when the youth transfers will begin.
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