Ware Youth Center Subject of Investigative Report

A grim picture of juvenile detention at the Ware Youth Center, just north of Coushatta, is painted in an investigative article published October 30th by the New York Times.  The headline reads “‘Dying Inside’:  Chaos and Cruelty in Louisiana Juvenile Detention.” It is subtitled “Reported abuses, overlooked complaints and a surge in suicide attempts at a detention center with powerful allies.”

Times reporters Megan Shutzer and Rachael Lauren Mueller examined public records, spoke with local public officials, and interviewed former inmates at the facility.  Their report claims abuse of inmates by guards and others at Ware over a period of years.  They also paint a picture of ineffective investigations and attempts to correct various problems that had been reported at Ware.

The center came into the public spotlight when two boys held there committed suicide within a 72 hour period in February of 2019.  The Times report cites these as just two of a growing number of suicide attempts by Ware inmates.  The report also detailed numerous break-outs and inmates running away from the facility.

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the report is the claim by female residents of abuse, including sexual abuse, by guards at the facility.  The story said, “For years, Ware’s leaders have failed to report complaints of abuse, hired unqualified employees and disregarded state rules.  Records offer no evidence that state regulators have ever fined or punished Ware, or threatened its contracts, even as inspectors have documented these same filings year after year. Local law enforcement officials have been largely dismissive of sexual-abuse allegations at Ware.”

The Times investigative report was critical of Red River District Attorney Julie Jones and local law enforcement for their handling of abuse complaints and other reported infractions at Ware.  In summary the story said, those charges were not thoroughly investigated by law enforcement, and the charges brought by the District Attorney were not as severe as they could have been.  The story notes that none of the persons charged were ever charged with a crime severe enough to cause those persons to be placed on the sex abuser registry.

The article was compiled by the New York Times and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California, Berkley, Graduate School of Journalism. Photo credit New York Times.

The article can be accessed by readers through Google.  You are looking for “New York Times Ware Youth Center.”  The link that follows leads to the article which you may review without subscribing to the Times or giving your personal information.

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