LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The property behind the existing juvenile justice center will soon be a 57,000 square foot building.
“We designed this for not a correctional feel. We did not want our kids who come here to feel like they’ve been incarcerated. Some need to be incarcerated, but most are going to age out and they’re going to get better,” Bill Sommers, director of the Office of Juvenile Justice Services, said.
Sommers said he hopes the children who come through the center never have to come back and Calcasieu Police Juror Dennis Scott, agrees.
“So when somebody loses direction we want to help create a path, when somebody feels hopeless, we want to be there to make sure they feel like they mean something,” Scott said.
The building is expected to have 38 beds and “an on-site medical clinic and expanded space for mental health services and vocational-technical training,” according to their website.
Sommers said this center has been talked about for at least a decade, and the staff could use the space.
“This is a game changer. I mean, the space and programming in which we’ll be able to provide here, which we can’t right now because we’re spaced limited, really, we’ll be able to see a difference for decades to come,” Sommers said.
When designing the new building they didn’t want want kids to feel like they’ve been imprisoned. Sommers said the whole goal was to build the center around programming.
“Recidivism rates should go down, this is a whole new chapter,” Sommers said.
He said he expects the building will be finished by late 2019 or early 2020.