NEW ORLEANS— Manpower shortages of corrections officers have force the state to use probation and parole officers in that role at youth detention centers.
According to Chance, a probation and parole officer, “For the last year and a half since COVID hit, we been forced to go and work in our secure care facilities. Those secure care facilities include Bridge City which is in New Orleans, Acadian Center for Youth which is in Bunkie, and Swanson which is up the Columbia and Monroe area.”
Chance has asked us to alter his identity, but he also spoke about how these 12 hour shifts At facilities like the Bridge City Youth Center. The shifts can last up to 12 hours and some longtime officers have chosen to leave.
“Morale is at an all time low, it’s terrible. We have had 40 plus years of experience walk out the door since the pandemic hit.”
The state department of juvenile justice gave WGNO the following statement:
Consideration is given to the overall workload of all staff members at OJJ to provide a safe environment for both staff and youth. Throughout the Covid pandemic, there have been both planned and emergency needs to supplement staff in our secure care facilities.
Gina Womack is Executive Director of Family and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children and she says the incidents and shortages are indicative of much larger problems with youth corrections.
Womack stated, “Our system over a period of time should be moving toward rehabilitation, where you have more educational opportunities, more counselors, a restorative model, and over the years, that has been waning.”
Womack also paints the picture that our city will continue to be frustrated with problems with juveniles as long as we fail to invest in the youth of New Orleans.
“Young people need opportunities, and so you find that young people that continue to be…we’re locking up the young people who are locked out of opportunities,” said Womack.