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Violence at Louisiana’s youth detention centers prompts state investigation

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Violence at Louisiana’s youth detention centers prompts state investigation

Feb 23, 2022 | 10:42 am ET
By Julie O'Donoghue
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Violence at Louisiana’s youth detention centers prompts state investigation
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(Andrew Brookes/Getty Images)

Violence at youth detention centers in Louisiana has prompted an investigation into the state Office of Juvenile Justice, the state’s inspector general said Tuesday.

The state’s three juvenile detention centers – in Bridge City, Monroe and Bunkie – are suffering from “a severe understaffing issue,” Inspector General Stephen Street said in a budget hearing at the state Capitol. People are reluctant to apply for detention center jobs because of concerns over their personal safety, he said.

Juvenile detainees have put staff in the hospital. One detainee severely beat two staff members in separate incidents.

“The job is very dangerous in that sense,” Street said. “There was one female guard that was very severely beaten.” 

Working in a juvenile center can be more dangerous than working in an adult prison or jail, Street said. In an adult facility, guards can be more aggressive with the people who are incarcerated. There are prohibitions on using violent methods of restraint in a juvenile facility because the detainees are underage, he said.

Street said the centers are also experiencing more escapes because the facilities haven’t been able to find contractors to upgrade facilities. Workers who can install security doors or put up razor wire are difficult to find, Street said.

State Sen. Heather Cloud, R-Turkey Creek, said she is very worried about the staff working in the Acadiana Youth Center in Bunkie, which is in her Senate district.

“I’m concerned someone is going to die in that facility,” she said.