Bridge City, La. (WGNO)— A ruling in federal court Friday, granted permission for violent juvenile inmates in the Bridge City Detention Center, to be sent to a facility on the grounds of Angola Prison. Advocates for the inmates say it’s a terrible idea while the frightened residents of Bridge City say it’s the right thing to do.
“My neighborhood is quiet, and I like it because I know everybody,” said Terence Feazell, Bridge City Resident.
That “quiet neighborhood” has been shaken over the past few years by the many escapes from the facility.
“It’s been happening for years but it never escalated to where people are starting to get hurt”, said Feazell.
One escapee reportedly carjacked and shot a man in Uptown New Orleans, back in July. The plan to move the most dangerous juveniles was ultimately Governor Edwards’ idea with the backing of a federal judge.
“Unfortunately it was a necessary action and it’s having the desired effect. As you listen to some of the stories, these kids that were escaping are now telling others ‘I’m afraid to go to Angola,” said Jefferson Parish Councilman Deano Bonano.
Youth advocates with the Family and Friends of Louisiana Incarcerated Children say they disagree with the judge’s ruling.
“We deeply reject this decision and extend our concern for the well-being of the children who will be transferred to Angola,” said Executive Director Gina Womack.
State Senator Pat Connick supported the ruling saying the move should help the Office of Juvenile Justice perform better.
“She said, ‘ok, let’s get the bad actors out of the system and to Angola and let’s take care of the ones that can be rehabilitated’ and I think that was done,” said State Senator J. Patrick Connick.
The Office of Juvenile Justice said they have received the decision and are in the process of reviewing it—more details will be released on our plans moving forward at a later date,” said the Office of Juvenile Justice.
“The reality is if they don’t change their lives that place is waiting for them,” said Terence Feazell who adds that the move should be a wakeup call for the youth offenders.
Executive Director of the New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board released a statement on the ruling:
“We are heartbroken to hear that young Louisianans will be relocated to the State Penitientary at Angola, a site synonymous with violence, sexual assault, and human rights violations. Our young people are the solution to our state’s challenges, not the problem. When we treat them as if they are problems that need to be locked away and hidden from sight, we guarantee worse outcomes for our state as a whole.
It’s essential that we listen to our young people, engage them in conversations that have bearing on their futures, and work with them to create opportunities for their learning, development and growth. Here in New Orleans, our young people partnered with parents, educators, sector leaders, and community members to create our city’s first-ever Youth Master Plan. They outlined five solutions around safety and justice, including investing in preventative solutions that are culturally appropriate and evidence-based, the expansion of restorative approaches in schools and communities, and the adoption of healing-centered behavioral interventions.
Our children belong in healthy and thriving communities, not behind bars. It is our duty as adults to partner with our young people to create the healthy environments they deserve.”