- Associated Press - Thursday, May 15, 2014

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - The state plans to build three new secure-care juvenile facilities, replacing those in Baker and Monroe and building a new one in Bunkie.

Mary Livers, the deputy secretary of the state Office of Juvenile Justice, said Wednesday construction is set to begin at the Bunkie Center for Youth in June and could take 18-24 months.

The Advocate reports (http://bit.ly/1muGaZo ) Livers said she also plans to build state-of-the-art facilities at the Jetson Center for Youth near Baker and Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe.

Those three secure care centers along with Bridge City Center for Youth in New Orleans and Swanson Center for Youth in Columbia will give the state five regional centers, she said.

At each of the secure care centers, juvenile offenders will be housed and treated using the Louisiana Model, the state’s therapeutic treatment method.

It was implemented statewide in 2006, Livers said, and is based on the highly-respected Missouri Model, which uses therapy and family involvement as opposed to operating a juvenile facility like an adult prison, punishing its juvenile offenders.

Livers said the $2.7 million allocated to the agency in House Bill 2 would allow the agency to begin designing the new Jetson and Swanson facilities. She put no timetable on when Jetson and Swanson will be completed.

Teens will remain housed in Swanson’s old facility during construction of a new facility, Livers said, which is a change from what occurred at Jetson.

With only a handful of state officials in the know, the agency on Jan. 26 closed Jetson, a 65-year-old state juvenile prison in Baker, and moved its 76 juveniles between midnight and 2 a.m.

Livers said the decision to move the teens from Jetson to Swanson and Bridge City was made because of the difficulty of keeping staff levels high at the Baker facility as well as training a new staff.

Livers said the treatment programs at Swanson and Bridge City were working well so the agency decided to send Jetson’s teens there instead of keeping them at Jetson while a new complex is built there.

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Information from: The Advocate, http://theadvocate.com

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