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‘Security is not there;’ 5 recaptured after Bridge City escape

Bridge City follow up
Bridge City follow up
Published: Jun. 16, 2022 at 8:45 AM CDT|Updated: Jun. 17, 2022 at 3:47 PM CDT
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BRIDGE CITY, La. (WVUE) - Five juveniles escaped from the Bridge City Center for Youth Thursday (June 16) morning, officials confirm.

The five escaped around 2:20 a.m., a spokesperson for the Office of Juvenile Justice says. Three of the escapees were recaptured around 8 a.m.

A 17-year-old from East Baton Rouge Parish was recaptured shortly after noon. A 16-year-old boy from Tangipahoa Parish was taken back into custody Friday.

It is unclear what charges the juveniles were in custody for, but officials say those being housed in Bridge Center have typically been convicted of serious crimes. Senator Patrick Connick says some of the detainees are “the worst of the worst.”

Hours later, 20 inmates broke out of their living quarters and took over a part of the detention center, causing a riot and sending an employee to the hospital.

More: Riot at Bridge City sends 3 to hospital, including employee

Connick wants to see extra security measures put in place to prevent this from happening again.

“The facility is not designed to house these folks,” he says. “The security is not there. Staffing is not there. Just like the problem at Orleans parish prison, there’s not enough guards and there’s no consequences for their actions.”

He says he’s been in contact with the governor’s office about adding more guards.

Connick says offenders housed here think security is a joke and the perimeter needs to be strengthened.

More: Violence, abuse, and escapes plague the juvenile justice system in Louisiana

In April, authorities say 19-year-old Jonathan Sheard convinced three other inmates to help him jump a female guard in the bathroom, steal her keys, and jump over the fence. He was on the run for over a month until police were able to recapture him.

Jonathan Sheard Jr., was recaptured over a month after escaping from the Bridge City Center for...
Jonathan Sheard Jr., was recaptured over a month after escaping from the Bridge City Center for Youth, according to NOPD.(NOPD)

Less than a month before that, five incarcerated youth escaped through the attic of the Bridge City center on March 17, an incident the detention center attributed in part to “human error.” Four of those escapees were recaptured after allegedly stealing a truck in Jefferson Parish and leading officers on a chase that ended in a crash in Opelousas.

The Director of the OJJ, Bill Sommers, admits there are serious problems within his office. He says there’s a manpower issue and believes the dormitory-style sleeping quarters for the juvenile inmates are nothing but trouble.

“At night time, youth are in a dorm, but they are free to move around to go and do what they do. They end up ganging up on other kids, and other staff, and when that happens, that’s when you have the issues. That’s when you have the escapes. That’s when you have the violence,” says Sommers.

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