Kids Are Waiting In Line To Get Into Prison, And That’s So Louisiana

The situation – no more room at the Inn

Bit of history – the Louisiana Office Of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) has been traditionally terrible, at everything

Solution – release some kids, build another center, house some kids on death row

Going forward – down ballot implications

Conclusion – see the excerpt

Excerpt: That there are kids, mainly black ones, literally waiting in line to be housed in the state’s juvenile prison system is a clear sign of how much the state has failed those kids..

The situation

Business is booming down at the OJJ. Right now, you couldn’t get a bed at one of its facilities even if you carjacked and killed somebody. Last week, the OJJ’s head and 2nd in command released a joint letter letting all know that there is no more room at the inn. All beds are full, statewide. On top of that, there’s even a 53-person waiting list. Imagine that! Juvenile prisons are full. Our state penitentiaries must be gushing with envy. For years, full capacity was a goal they could only dream of. But look at them now. While statewide penitentiary rates are down 24%, the OJJ is gobbling up more kids than it can handle.

Bit of history

This is surprising. You’d think word would’ve circulated on the street that being housed in an OJJ facility is the last place you’d want to be. If you’re not being beaten by a fellow inmate, you’re being beaten by a guard, or raped by one and driven to suicide if you happen to be a teenage girl at the Ware Youth Center in Red River Parish.

For years, the state’s juvenile justice system has been so Louisiana – big talk and little follow through. The state vowed to get its sh*t together about a decade ago. Following a Missouri model, the new focus was supposed to be rehabilitation over punishment. Jail cells were to give way to dorm-like centers, where kids could reflect on how and why they ended up there. Of course, the state failed to fund the necessary and qualified security for all this reflection to take place. Instead violence and abuse quickly took place. Kids rioted and wrecked a center in Monroe. And with so little security, the center in Bridge City has seen one escape after another.


Apparently, the head of the OJJ did some deep soul searching and concluded that he was no longer the man for the job. So he quit, shortly after releasing the no room at the inn letter. Presently, the OJJ is working on prematurely or belatedly releasing some kids to make room for those on the waiting list. And of course, they’re also working on building more dorm-like detention centers.

Renovated Juvenile Facility at Angola

The state just spent over a half a million dollars converting an old death row wing of Angola into one of its dream dorms. But as anyone who’s seen one of those horror movies like The Amityville Horror or Poltergeist where a new house is built on rotten land could’ve predicted that this wouldn’t go well.

First the townspeople had a fit. Then as if haunted by the ghost of its past, the state fell right back into old habits. Not enough money was included in the funding. So this shiny new renovation doesn’t have enough security to house the intended kids. The result: the state has spent over a half a million dollars to house 5 kids in a space meant for 24. That’s so Louisiana.

Going Forward

Expect all kinds of down-ballot ruminations until something is done. With state juvenile jails full, more strain will be put on the local ones. And with local jails not equipped for rehabilitative purposes, kids will probably just dangle in purgatory.


That there are kids, mainly black ones, literally waiting in line to be housed in the state’s juvenile prison system is a clear sign of how much the state has failed those kids.

The underlying condition plaguing the population is poverty of course. Louisiana is the second poorest state in the country by federal standards. It also has the second highest rate of childhood poverty, the third worst medium income, and only 27% have a college degree. If this state was a business, the BBB would rate it an “F”.

But generational poverty leads to generational crime. And until the state exorcises that demon, expect business to keep right on booming down at the OJJ.

3 thoughts on “Louisiana Juvenile Prisons Full”
    1. agreed. there are obviously more responsible ways to teach children they wrongs of their way. Setting them up in a stable situation with a chance to work or learn a little something under the guidance of caring, yet strong adults.

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