Senator Heather Cloud Responds to Disturbing Violence at OJJ Monroe Swanson Facility for Youth

November 17, 2023

BATON ROUGE, La. – Senator Heather Cloud expressed grave concern and urgency following the disturbing events that unfolded at the Office of Juvenile Justice Monroe Swanson Facility for Youth last night. Reports indicate a violent breakout by youth, resulting in the assault and injury of guards, destruction of property including security cameras and ceilings, jeopardizing the safety of both staff, residents and surrounding community.

“These violent attacks highlight the imminent risk these unsecured dangerous youth pose to their peers and the OJJ staff tasked with their care. Last night’s attempted escape and the violent attacks along with several other reported serious incidents and other facilities provide crystal clear evidence that the decision to relocate these individuals from the secure West Feliciana site, where there was additional protection and safeguards provided by the Department of Corrections (DOC), has created opportunities for hazardous and even life threatening conditions with OJJ secure care facilities,” Senator Cloud stated.

“The recent federal court ruling prohibiting the housing of these individuals at the West Feliciana site has not only endangered lives, but has also plunged OJJ into a state of chaos and disarray. Such situations not only result in potential injuries or loss of life, but they also impede the agency’s ability to recruit and retain new personnel amidst an already strained workforce,” she further added.

Senator Cloud stressed the urgency of the impending federal appeals court hearing scheduled for December 5th to reassess the decision barring the placement of youth at the West Feliciana facility. “This hearing cannot arrive soon enough. Meanwhile, immediate action is imperative to ensure the safety of both staff and youth.”

In light of the pressing situation, Senator Cloud proposed the urgent transfer of these level one, dangerous youth to back to the secure West Feliciana unit. “The West Feliciana facility is equipped with the necessary resources and trained staff to handle such outbreaks of violence. These individuals must be relocated to care at West Feliciana without delay,” Senator Cloud asserted.

The safety and well-being of both the youth and those responsible for their care remain Senator Heather Cloud’s top priority, emphasizing the necessity for immediate action and a reassessment of the current situation.

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