14 La. juveniles charged with escape after refusing to return to dorms, injuring employee

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office had to be called in to regain control of the facility Monday night


By Chad Calder
The Times-Picayune | The New Orleans Advocate
        
BRIDGE CITY, La. — More than a dozen juvenile offenders at Jefferson Parish's youth detention center refused to return to their dormitories Monday night and Sheriff's Office deputies had to be called in to regain control.

When it was over, 14 inmates were transferred to Jefferson Parish Correctional Center and were booked on simple escape charges, though none of the youths actually left the campus during the incident, said Elizabeth Touchet-Morgan, a spokeswoman for the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice, which runs the Bridge City facility.

The Jefferson Parish Sheriff's Office confirmed Monday night that it responded to a request for assistance from the Justice Center's staff but referred all questions to the state.

The incident Monday night was the latest in a string of incidents at the Bridge City Center for Youth, including a
The incident Monday night was the latest in a string of incidents at the Bridge City Center for Youth, including a "mini-riot," an escape and the beating of two guards. (Google Maps)

Touchet-Morgan said five youths sustained minor injuries in fights between themselves and were treated in the infirmary. One employee of the detention center was treated for minor injuries at West Jefferson Medical Center. She would not say how many refused to go back into their dorms, citing the ongoing investigation of the incident, which began at about 7 p.m. Monday.

"As with any altercation incident, all youth are processed through the infirmary to be checked for injuries," she wrote Wednesday in an emailed response to questions.

She said the detention center contracts with Sheriff's Office deputies to provide "supplemental perimeter support," and they were called in Monday to "assist with returning the youth to their dormitories and securing the youth."

She said additional charges could still be coming as the investigation continues.

It was the latest in a string of incidents at the center, including a "mini-riot," an escape and the beating of two guards.

A year ago, 38 inmates were detained and transferred to other facilities after what JPSO called a "mini-riot" and the state called "a disturbance." News reports from late April 2020 said juvenile offenders at the facility began fighting and damaged several doors and windows. Two inmates and a guard sustained minor injuries in that incident.

In late April of this year, six juveniles escaped from the facility and four made it to Lafayette before being arrested.

And in May 2019 there were two incidents in which guards were attacked by inmates, and one incident resulted in a guard having her keys stolen, though no inmates left the grounds in either case.

Juvenile justice advocates have been critical of the Bridge City facility, saying the operation suffers from poor training and high turnover among staff.

Next: 'Kids are so out of control' at La. youth detention center, official says
     
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