BATON ROUGE, La. (WGNO) — A team of lawyers filed a lawsuit Friday against Governor John Bel Edwards and the Office of Juvenile Justice to stop the transfer of juvenile inmates from Bridge City to Angola.
After multiple escapes this year, Jefferson Parish Councilman Deano Bonano said that is the wrong decision.
“Bridge City’s backyard is people’s backyards. So every time they escape, they’re walking through someone’s backyard,” Bonano said. “We’re catching them on Ring cameras trying to break into people’s cars, people’s houses and how no one has gotten hurt in Bridge City is a pure miracle.”
In July, Gov. Edwards said he would handle the situation and move the violent juveniles to Angola. However, a group of attorneys, including Ron Haley, think that poses a different safety hazard.
“We do not believe under any circumstance youth offenders should be housed in the same place as adults,” Haley said.
So, they filed a class action lawsuit to keep the youth where they believe they belong.
“A part of this suit we are asking for injunctive relief immediate from the Middle District of Louisiana, basically putting a temporary restraining order to prevent these kids from being moved,” Haley said.
OJJ previously stated, the juveniles would not be housed in the same area as adults but if a judge sides with the attorneys, that could halt the entire process. That would create more issues for the Crescent City.
“We told the governor, it wasn’t if, it was when one of these violent offenders was going to hurt somebody,” Bonano said. “You know in that last escape, the perpetrator, in one day, got a hold of a gun, attempted to carjack the victim and then shot him. Only by the grace of god are they still alive and that victim was in ICU for several weeks.”
Councilman-at-large Scott Walker released a statement to WGNO saying in part, “It’s up to the state to decide where they go, but they should not be in Bridge City.”
OJJ has not commented on the lawsuit.