Louisiana's Model for Secure Care
The Office of Youth Development, now known as the Office of Juvenile Justice, began working with the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Missouri Division of Youth Services in 2004 to develop a new approach to juvenile justice, based on a therapeutic, treatment and child-centered model, moving away from the traditional correctional, custodial methods. The system that was created is entitled LAMOD (the Louisiana Model for Secure Care). LAMOD was introduced as a reform approach at Bridge City Center for Youth in July 2005. LAMOD was subsequently been introduced at Jetson Center for Youth and Swanson Center for Youth.
LAMOD focuses on a therapeutic, child-centered environment, versus a traditional adult correctional/custodial model. The key to LAMOD’s success is to treat youth with dignity and respect. Emphasis is on relationship-building that affords youth the opportunity to belong and contribute to a group, make meaningful choices, develop transferable skills, and mentor their peers. Physical characteristics of LAMOD feature a more homelike environment in secure care facilities. OJJ strives to keep dorm sizes to 10-12 youth. Group processes led by Juvenile Justice Specialists take place in the dorms and include treatment and counseling. Weekly team meetings provide an opportunity for all staff who work with youth to discuss progress and ways to support the youth.
The LAMOD model has as its driving focus recognition of the humanity of youth, their innate ability to change, and to act as change agents in their communities. By shifting the focus from custody to treatment, the youth and their families are provided the tools necessary to effect this outcome. Youth are encouraged to actively participate in group problem resolution and mentoring techniques that will be useful upon return to their families and communities.