Some youths arrested for non-violent offenses may be sent to a new program aimed at reducing recidivism instead of being housed at the Baton Rouge Juvenile Detention Center, city-parish officials said.
When juveniles are sent to the new Evening Reporting Center, they will receive meals, homework help, counseling and other services, said Gail Grover, director of the parish’s Department of Juvenile Services.
Grover said research shows that nonviolent offenders who are placed in juvenile detention re-offend at a higher rate. The center offers an alternative to detention that is aimed at reducing the rate of recidivism among such youths.
“There will be intense supervision and some good programming,” Grover said.
She said the new center, which can serve 10-13 juveniles at a time, is scheduled to open May 13 in a separate building in front of the Juvenile Detention Center on Veterans Memorial Boulevard.
She said it could serve 10-13 juveniles at a time.
Youths will be assigned by a judge to the Evening Reporting Center at their detention hearing, Grover said.
It gives judges a third option rather than just sending them home with their parents or to the detention center, she said.
The youths, all boys, will be under strict supervision at the ERC, she said.
Those in the program will be picked up from school and brought to the center. They will be taken home after 8 p.m., when statistics show youths are far less likely to be arrested, Grover said.
Youths would be evaluated for program eligibility when they are arrested and booked, Grover said.
“Even more important than the type of offenses committed is an evaluation of the offender,” Grover said. “We look at more than just the offense.”
Grover said an offender’s history of trouble, and whether he passes a drug screen when brought to the detention center, would be considered in the evaluation.
“We want to look at each person case-by-case to see if they are appropriate for the ERC,” she said.
Offenders brought in for certain offenses, such as murder, rape, other violent felonies or gun charges would not be eligible, she said.
The Juvenile Detention Center averages between 36 and 40 offenders, she said. It has a 52-bed capacity.
“There were 218 last year that may have been eligible,” Grover said.
Staffing for the center will come from reassigning some current employees and contracting out of services, Grover said.
The philosophy behind the program comes from the Juvenile Detention Alternative Initiatives, an initiative of the Anna E. Casey Foundation, she said.
Norris West, a spokesman for the foundation, said the program’s goals were to improve community safety and reduce recidivism.
“We think it can save taxpayers money and improve outcomes,” he said.
By the end of 2013, there will be about 200 JDAI sites around the country, West said.
When contacted by phone, District Attorney Hillar Moore III said he could not comment because he did not know enough about the program.
A spokeswoman for Sheriff Sid Gautreaux requested more information as well.