Officials give first walk-through of juvenile facility at Angola
ANGOLA, La. (WAFB) - The Office of Juvenile Justice provided an exclusive look inside the building a small group of troubled teens will soon call home.
The Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola will house a select number of young offenders in the coming weeks. The first set could arrive at Angola within one or two weeks, according to OJJ Facilities Director Linda London.
“We’ve been busy at work the last 60 or 90 days really trying to get this space up and ready for us,” said Curtis Nelson, Assistant Secretary for the Office of Juvenile Justice.
WAFB toured the facility where officials explained the renovations they made to prepare for the incoming transfer.
The old death row building that once housed women inmates is where the teens will live. That building sits at the very front of the prison’s entrance.
Inside, the two-story facility can house up to 24 young people. Officials say the expectation is to never hold that many at one time.
Each teen will have their own cell to themselves, will be allowed to complete schoolwork, receive medical care, and space for recreational time.
“We spaced out the cells to ensure even more privacy for the youth, as opposed to putting them all back-to-back,” Nelson said.
OJJ plans to move the teens in waves of eight at a time, with the eventual goal of reintegrating them back into one of their main facilities.
“For the most part, we have everything here, so if we had to open up today or tonight, we can accommodate the kids,” said London.
One of the biggest concerns from opponents about this move involved possible contact with the other adult inmates.
“I don’t see how that can happen,” said Nelson.
Officials put up a black fabric that completely wraps around the building to ensure nothing can be heard or seen from any of the other inmates on campus. They also added the nearest adult facility is nearly 1.5 miles away from where the teens will be housed.
“We feel very confident that our young people will be able to be housed here without having interaction with any adult inmates,” said Nelson.
Before this plan was finalized, there were discussions about moving some of the teens to the Jetson Center near Baker.
As of now, those talks are on hold.
“At this moment, we don’t have plans to move any children on that current Jetson ground,” said Nelson.
Officials did consider Jetson as a possible option to move inmates in case a storm hits, but anything more is still being discussed.
“We did have some internal discussions that if we had to do a quick evacuation, Jetson could have been a place we could have gone to avoid a storm,” said Nelson.
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