Fight at Jennings High sparks concerns over lack of facility for juvenile offenders

Published: Mar. 15, 2023 at 7:06 PM CDT
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Jennings, LA (KPLC) - Juvenile crime is on the rise in Jeff Davis parish, but authorities have no where to put those offenders.

“I was scared to death I got to the school and my grandson is sitting there with bloody tissue paper and holding his nose,” Tammy Smith said.

Smith said after her grandson was beat up at Jennings High, the alleged offender was cited for simple battery and sent home.

”There’s nothing we can do about it because the cops can’t do nothing about it because their hands are tied, so until a facility is built to punish them in some kind of way it’s not going to change,” Smith said.

Without a juvenile detention facility in Jeff Davis Parish, authorities look for space out of the area, but right now, they’re full.

“There are some sheriffs and district attorneys that are working with some legislative people about setting up some regional centers around the state that we’d be able to put the violent juvenile offenders in, but at this time we just don’t have a place to put them,” Jeff Davis Chief Deputy Chris Ivey said.

Previously, they sent juvenile offenders in Louisiana to a facility in Alabama, but now they are no longer welcome.

“They had some issues in Alabama with them fighting and not following the rules and getting into altercations with the guards at the juvenile facility,” Ivey said.

Ivey said the sheriff’s office is floating some ideas to track juvenile offenders’ whereabouts with an ankle or wrist monitor, but a more permanent solution must be found.