Office of Youth Development Changes its Name:
BATON ROUGE, LA – The Office of Youth Development is now the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ), in accordance with Act 565 of the 2008 Legislature.
The Act changes the name of the agency, housed administratively within the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, but does not change its mission, focus or duties. OJJ is a cabinet-level agency whose head, Interim Deputy Secretary Mary L. Livers, MSW, Ph.D, reports to the governor.
OJJ provides services to youth adjudicated delinquent and placed in state custody. OJJ provides community-based services to low level youthful offenders and to youth on probation, parole, or adjudicated FINS (Families in Need of Services). OJJ has 11 regional field services offices staffed by Probation and Parole officers and supervisors, social workers, education specialists and administrative staff. Offices are located in Alexandria, Baton Rouge, Hammond, Lafayette, Lake Charles, Monroe, Natchitoches, New Orleans/Jefferson, Opelousas, Shreveport, Tallulah and Thibodaux.
Through contract providers, OJJ offers prevention and diversion programs designed to help prevent youth from entering the juvenile justice system.
At the deep end of the system, OJJ also operates three secure care facilities, including Bridge City Center for Youth in Bridge City, Jetson Center for Youth in Baker, and Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe.
Approximately 4,600 teens from all parishes of the state are in OJJ custody on any day; 85-90 percent of those youth receive community-based services. The majority of out-of-home placements are in residential group homes located in every area of the state. Most youth under supervision (on probation) receive services while living at home and are monitored by Probation/Parole Officers. Only 10-15 percent of OJJ youth are housed in one of the three secure care facilities.
"We welcome the name change," Dr. Livers said. "The words 'juvenile justice' in our agency's name provide a better picture of the work we do and the population we serve. The name Juvenile Justice is not ambiguous or euphemistic – it's clearly descriptive and states that we are a part of the criminal justice system. Together, with our other partners, we help youth become law-abiding citizens in our communities."