The St. Charles Parish Council approved an agreement with a New Orleans company specializing in juvenile electronic monitoring services, which could significantly cut costs and give judges another option to juvenile detention.
At Monday’s council meeting, Chief Administrative Officer Billy Raymond said ETOH Monitoring LLC will provide the service, which became allowable under Act 147 passed in the 2019 Legislative Session. The measure empowers each parish to develop its own program to serve as an alternative to detention.
The parish does not have a juvenile detention center so it relies on the availability of beds in neighboring parishes like Terrebonne and Lafayette.
Raymond said a detention bed can cost $275 a day if it is available.
Under the agreement, ETOH will furnish GPS monitoring with a one-time $50 fee that covers equipment, installation, maintenance and removal. Daily monitoring would cost $7.50 a day. A monitoring device not returned would cost the parish $675, but Raymond said it would be recovered from the juvenile.
Also, 29th Judicial District Court Judge Timothy Marcel said efforts have been considered in the last three years aimed at working with juveniles while also keeping them with their families and, hopefully, in school.
The council supported the move with opposition solely from Councilwoman Marilyn Bellock.
“I see this as punishment and it should be for adults rather than juveniles,” Bellock said.
Marcel replied many of these juveniles are with struggling families and the monitoring system would allow them to stay with their family and still work out issues. If they violate the system, each juvenile will be addressed on a case-by-case basis that could still include detention.
Raymond said the parish will maintain its agreement for juvenile beds in detention centers, but they anticipate using them less with GPS monitoring.
The council also acted on the following items:
- Approved the Rathborne Land Co.’s donation to the parish of a parcel of land adjacent to Rathborne Park at 702 Lakewood Drive in Luling. Parish Parks and Recreation Director Duane Foret said the land will allow them to nearly triple parking availability. Foret thanked Council Chairwoman Julia Fisher-Perrier and Councilwoman Mary Clulee for facilitating the donation. Fisher-Perrier added, “This is a much needed addition.”
- Clulee sought but lacked support for an ordinance to restrict smoking in bars and/or gambling facilities. She maintained it would invite more non-smokers to them, particularly when “smoking affects everyone.” Fellow council members, however, disagreed. Dick Gibbs maintained this should be decided by the bar owners, and warned not allowing smoking could push smoking patrons to truck stops in neighboring Kenner.
- Fisher-Perrier got council approval for an ordinance on limiting distribution of printed matter to “establish provisions with respect to the distribution of solicited and unsolicited printed matter” such as free newspapers tossed in yards. Fisher-Perrier said she was receiving complaints from residents that the materials were damaging property such as contributing to drainage issues or creating conditions such as blight that could invite criminal behavior.