Community leaders come together to discuss a challenge facing the juvenile justice system.
Judges and the Caddo Parish Commission President spoke at a forum at Praise Temple Church Tuesday evening.
State law mandates by July 2020 all 17-year-old offenders will be housed in juvenile dentention centers. However, Caddo Parish’s Center is not large enough and only has 24 beds. So judges are left deciding who stays and who can be released despite seeing an increase in violent crimes.
“Although I am for rehabilitating a child and putting everything in place to try and deter the child from dentention, I am a strong believer that violent crimes need to be in dentention. I am not going to allow a child accused of murder to be back out of the streets because I don’t have room in the dentention center. I am not going to allow a child who has committed rape or accused of committing rape on another child to be put back on the streets because I don’t have room in the dentention center. That is a decision that we should not have to make as judges,” said Ree Casey-Jones, Caddo Parish Juvenile Court.
Since the mandate did not come with additional state funding, Commissioner Stormy Gage-Watts said it may come down to tax payers approving a new millage in order to expand the center.