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Stassi Criticizes ACLU on Juvenile Detention in Angola

Demands by the American Civil Liberties Union for the state to release juvenile offenders from Angola State Penitentiary drew criticism last week from Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi.

Excessive heat, solitary confinement and no education or other activities has led to the outcry from the ACLU.

The lack of a juvenile detention center in the region has left no other option, he said.

“The problem is that we have no other facility that can handle these types of kids, and we are in need of different facilities now to put these people in,” he said. “I’m sure the ones they’ve sent there are the worst of the worst.”

The Iberville Parish Sheriff’s Office and other law enforcement agencies across the state have had difficulty finding bedspace for violent offenders over the last several years.

Most of the Louisiana facilities are either at capacity, while some facilities across the state – and outside the state – will not accept juvenile offenders from Louisiana.

The out-of-state facilities that accept Louisiana juvenile offenders often charge hundreds of dollars per day to house them. 

Gov. John Bel Edwards gave the green light last year to house the juvenile offenders in Angola, in an area separated from adult inmates.

Many of the critics of that policy forget the nature of the crimes the juvenile offenders commit, Stassi said. 

“We have juveniles committing some of the most heinous crimes we’re facing,” he said. “But I think they’re going to hold the line to people fussing about it.

“There’s no other remedy besides turning them loose back on the people who they abused already,” he said. “If we do that, we’ll lose all the ground we made up.” 

In Pointe Coupee Parish, which is also in the 18th Judicial District, Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux said the ACLU does not realize or acknowledge the violent nature of the crimes.

“It’s not like they’re in jail for going to church twice on Sunday,” he said.

Source : West Side Journal