BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) — Governor John Bel Edwards held a press conference to announce a plan for addressing recent issues at the Bridge City Center for Youth on Tuesday afternoon.
“What happened this past weekend at Bridge City Center was unacceptable the escape, the theft, the shooting, all of it,” said Gov. Edwards. “These incidents can not and will not continue to happen.”
Edwards says through their preliminary investigation it showed that there was many leadership failures that led to the escape of the six juveniles. He said it was a violation of the approved plan of action through the additional security provided to the faciliity on June 17.
As a result, three Office of Juvenile Justice staffers are currently on adminstrative leave pending an investigation.
Edwards was joined by the Office of Juvenile Justice Deputy Secretary Bill Sommers and Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc.
Many local activist group were calling on the governor to shut down the juvenile detention center, and he says that is not an option. Edwards say that they have formed short and long term goals to fix the issues at the facility.
The short term goal will enhance security and communication mesarues at the facility. Addressing the leadership issues, an OJJ staff member will be on campus at all times at Bridge City and will be in charge of the facility.
As soon as possible, some juveniles will be relocated to the Louisiana State Penitentiary. They will not have any direct contact with adult imates and will be housed in the front of the prison in a secure facility. The juveniles will continue to receive services, such as education, therapy, substance abuse classes, will continue while they are housed at the state prison.
“This is not the perfect or ideal plan but I do believe the situation demands an immediate response to ensure safety for the youth, staff, and community,” said Gov. Edwards.
Bill Sommers, Office of Juvenile Justice Secretary says only the most troubled youth will be relocated to the state penetentiary.