NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — The recent history of the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center includes reports of escapes and questionable leadership.

While it’s a necessary agency, with a dedicated staff, leaders hope to make a difference in the lives of troubled young people.

“These kids have been accused of allegedly committing some of the most violent crimes in New Orleans, so when they come into the facility, I’m never asking what you did. My first question is ‘Why are you here?’ They want to tell me ‘They said I,’ and I say, ‘I didn’t ask you what you did. I asked you why you’re here. What is going on in your life in this period in time?'” said Executive Director Dichelle Williams.

That philosophy is at the heart of how the New Orleans Juvenile Justice Intervention Center now operates under Williams, who contends that the effort of rehabilitating troubled youth in the city is a collaboration.

“We do this as a team, and that is from the internal partners that are providing education and providing medical services, but more importantly our programming partners,” said Williams.

Among those partners are some helping with the effort of transforming the space with murals painted by the young people to beautify the place they live in. Children’s Hospital provides medical services, and the Travis Hill School provides education in the facility.

“We get to know kids for who they are. I don’t condone or have an opinion about what a kid has done or allegedly has done so forth and so on, but what I do know is that I have a fiduciary right and obligation to educate the kid,” said Byron Goodwin.

Williams took over tenure at JJIC, but now works for the agency to find balance for a debt that needs to be paid to society with the intentional approach to benefit children under their care.

“I don’t want to undermine or minimize the fact that there are victims out there. I’m trying to provide services and rehabilitate them so when they do return to the communities, they return better than they were when they left their communities,” said Williams.

Employment opportunities are currently available at the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center.

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