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FROM: Times Picayune



Plans for the House to debate a proposal to overhaul Louisiana's juvenile justice system were scuttled Thursday after lawmakers could not agree on how to frame an amendment related to the proposed closure of the Tallulah prison in northeast Louisiana. Rep. Francis Thompson, D-Delhi, who represents Madison Parish, home of the prison, said he wants language added to HB 2018 to ensure that some of the prison jobs stay in the area as the juveniles are transferred to non-secure programs or one of the state's other three youth prisons. "I'm for trying to rehabilitate kids," said Thompson, adding that he must protect the economy of his district. The Department of Corrections plans to keep the facility open after the 225 juveniles housed there are taken out, and probably would use it for young offenders convicted in adult courts. Thompson said any changes at the prison during the transition period would have a devastating effect on the economies of Madison, East Carroll, West Carroll, Tensas and Richland parishes. David Utter, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, questioned the purpose of such an amendment, saying many youths who would be removed from the prison are from south Louisiana and should be put in programs close to their homes. "The whole idea is looking at the system and doing what is best for the kids using scarce fixed dollars," Utter said.

Times Picayune



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