NEWS OJJ Removes Youth from West Feliciana Facility

Photographed by: Michael Johnson (The Advocate- Staff Photographer)

This morning, the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) transferred all youth out of the West Feliciana Center for Youth located on the grounds of Louisiana State Penitentiary.

After the District Court ruling last week, OJJ staff made contact with local officials in Jackson Parish who opened a new juvenile justice facility in July of this year. This new local facility, which is already serving youth in local juvenile justice programs, has the capacity to temporarily house OJJ youth while work continues on the new state-run Swanson secure care facility. OJJ officials will work alongside local officials to ensure that OJJ youth housed in Jackson Parish continue to receive rehabilitative services and care that follows state and federal laws and regulations.

OJJ intends to move forward with our appeal of the recent ruling by the U.S. District Court. OJJ continues to disagree with the court’s ruling, which we believe contained several findings about the conditions at the West Feliciana Center for Youth that are at odds with the facts. The West Feliciana Center for Youth was a necessary, but temporary solution to address serious security issues at OJJ facilities across the state that threatened the safety of staff, community members, and youth in our care. The youth who were temporarily housed there received targeted rehabilitative services and care from hardworking OJJ staff, who took extraordinary measures to ensure the facility could successfully serve the youth.

Last year, the legislature passed, and Gov. John Bel Edwards signed, Act 693 into law, which created a tiered system of low-risk, moderate-risk, and high-risk juveniles within OJJ’s secure care facilities.

OJJ’s long-term plan is to transfer all youth needing intensive therapeutic services to the new Swanson Center for Youth at Monroe, which is a Tier 1 secure care facility that is scheduled to open later this year. Once the new Swanson facility is open, we do not anticipate that any youth in OJJ care will be housed in Jackson Parish.