Parish seeking housing options for juveniles with Assumption detention center closing

The May 31 closure of the Assumption Parish Youth Detention Center has left St. Charles Parish among dozens of agencies in the state looking for alternatives on where to house juveniles delinquents with pending charges.

The St. Charles Parish Council had approved continuing its contract with the Napoleonville facility in hopes the move might help keep the 40-bed center open.

Center officials were unable to secure a daily rate per bed of $197.25, up from $130, for 32 beds to help keep the facility open.

But the center’s financial troubles could not be resolved in enough time to keep the center open.

Although St. Charles Parish renewed its contract, the center could not secure enough of them with surrounding parishes to keep the doors open.

“We currently have three beds contracted out with them,” said Tristan Babin, parish public information officer. “If the facility were to close, we would have to find that space elsewhere.”

Babin said the parish has been reaching out to other facilities around the state for options in case the Napoleonville facility closed, but he added, “It is difficult to find a facility that can fill this void since many detention centers don’t contract out the beds.”

Location is another issue in choosing a new facility to house juveniles.

“We must consider location as [a] factor,” he said. “If the center it not close in proximity to our parish, then it may present a problem when inmates need to appear in court.”

St. Charles Parish Sheriff Greg Champagne said the parish is negotiating with another juvenile facility, which he declined to name at this time until an agreement is finalized.

“Housing juveniles is a complicated proposition,” Champagne said. “The beds are expensive and you only need them when you need them.”

Champagne added, “Typically, unless they are deemed dangerous, they are released by the court within days. So, much of the time, we have no juveniles in custody.”

Sheriff’s Office spokesman Capt. Pat Yoes also said the closure was anticipated and the Sheriff’s Office along with the parish government were looking for a new location.

Yoes said the parish averaged 4.5 bookings for juveniles per month last year.    

According to the parish’s contract with the Napoleonville center, the facility’s purpose is to assist and afford opportunities to juveniles to help them become productive, law-abiding citizens through rehabilitative programs.

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