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Council searching for dollars to build detention center

By Susan Stewart / L’Observateur / February 4, 1998

LAPLACE – St. John the Baptist Parish Council members are searching forfederal and state dollars to build a juvenile detention center in the parish.Presently, juvenile felons from St. John Parish are sent to a facility inneighboring St. James Parish.

“This is a situation where we have been meeting with judges, the districtattorney, the sheriff and members of the council and we’re trying to cometogether to solve our problems here in St. John Parish,” Councilman PerryBailey said.

Bailey said the proposed facility will not only house delinquents but alsooffer educational counseling and seminars to youth and their parents.

“We have no particular platform laid out yet, but I think we have to reachthe parent in order for them to be able to recognize that there is aproblem around them,” Bailey said.It all boils down to a moral issue, he said.Bailey said the idea is not only to treat the ill, but to keep the ill fromoccurring, adding that this issue has become a thorn in the side of allelected officials of St. John Parish.Councilman Richard Dale Wolfe agrees.Wolfe said parish officials must start somewhere, because presently”we’re not doing anything to rectify this problem,” he said.

Bailey said the parish as a whole must come together, just as certain groups come together for all other budget items.

“Not just the councilmen and parish administration but all governingbodies of St. John Parish – the sheriff’s department, the D.A., the judgesand school board members, everyone – to devise a plan that educatespeople so we can prevent these ills from occurring,” he said.

“We don’t want to just lock up juveniles but put a system in place that will offer them alternatives to the behavior that may have gottenthem there in the first place.”

Wolfe said the facility would be a means of prevention.

“We’re not doing anything now other than incarceration, and that’s not theanswer. We need to treat the illness,” he said.

Wolfe said there are a number of options.”It’s time we find a way to do it here,” he said.

Bailey said he believes this would also bring more jobs to the area.”I think it’s something we definitely will have to sit down and look at thetotal criteria,” he said.

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