NEW ORLEANS, LA – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, City Officials, Judges, and FEMA broke ground on the new, 59,000 square foot New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center situated along the Bayou St. John waterway, Encampment Street, Imperial Drive, and Interstate 610 in the St. Bernard Area neighborhood. This new facility will serve as the permanent home for the City’s secure detention facility for boys and girls younger than 18 years old and will replace the Temporary Youth Study Center that was opened in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina which destroyed the old facility. It will also serve as the home of Orleans Parish Juvenile Court. Funding for this $32 million project comes from FEMA recovery dollars, insurance, and City bond funds. Funding for this $32 million project comes from FEMA recovery dollars, insurance, City bond funds, and Law Enforcement District bond funds.
Mayor Landrieu also announced that the City of New Orleans has met the terms of the Federal Consent Decree concerning structural and operational conditions at the Temporary Youth Study Center. In 2007, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana brought a Federal Class Action against the City alleging deprivation of constitutional rights concerning the conditions of confinement, from a physical and programmatic perspective. On February 10, 2010, the City agreed to come into compliance with a number of reforms at the Temporary Youth Study Center including: policies and procedure revisions; staff training procedures; governance structure reforms; inclusion of professional services including social workers, recreational specialists, and medical service providers; capacity limits; use of shackles; use of confinement; food service; intake/admission processes; health medical care; air condition control; grievance policies; housing of females; administration; outdoor space; and construction of a new facility. A Court Monitor was appointed to ensure compliance with the terms of the settlement. On Thursday, January 17, 2013, U.S. District Court Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle of the Eastern District of Louisiana certified that the City of New Orleans is in compliance and has met and sustained all of the reforms and changes agreed to by the Consent Decree.
“Today’s ground breaking of the New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center and the announcement of a settlement regarding the Temporary Youth Study Center Consent Decree are important steps in moving our city forward and bring our juvenile justice system into the 21st Century,” Mayor Mitch Landrieu said. “The New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center will be a state-of-the-art facility that follows national best practices. As one of my administration’s 100 committed capital projects, this facility will be a beacon for the City we are working to build every day. Today’s announcements are testaments to the hard work put in by so many to see this new facility become a reality and ensure that troubled youth have every opportunity to turn their lives around.”
The New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center will support 24 hours a day operation and provisions for best practices including detention housing, educational, kitchen and dining spaces, indoor and outdoor recreational spaces, open courtyard and administrative and training spaces. Additional spaces include a NOPD juvenile receptions center which shall be the central port for new detained juvenile and current detainees to move between their facilities in to the court system.
Councilmember-at-Large Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “As a city, this is one of the most important things we can do to ensure our at-risk youth are kept out of harm’s way and reentered into a productive life.”
District A City Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “I look forward to completion of this new facility that will provide a safe and modern environment for our troubled youth. I am also looking forward to the eventual construction of additional facilities that will provide wrap around services for detainees and their families.”
District D City Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, “In light of the horrific incident in Connecticut, treating and caring for our troubled youth must be the number one priority for the City of New Orleans. This is a key element to making our city a safer, better place. The new facility being built here will enable us to better provide essential services to the youths housed here and their families. I hope it will lead to improved outcomes from our juvenile justice system.”
District E City Councilmember James Gray said, "The wide variety of services offered by this new Youth Study Center will provide our children with the tools needed — not just to reintegrate into society — but to do well and even excel. One day soon, we will witness the great achievements of a young person who came through this center, and our children and grandchildren will take pride in the role we played in creating a safe and nurturing environment for these kids."
The Juvenile Court System will provide court room and judge’s offices along with court administrative spaces. This component also provides spaces for juvenile-related services from the District Attorney and Public Defender’s offices. There are also spaces identified for CINC attorneys and social workers to support this component. This phase is comprised of three separate functioning areas which are Juvenile Court, District Attorney and Public Defenders spaces and are attached via a large common corridor to accommodate each function with congestion. The District Attorney and Public Defenders spaces enclose separate courtyards. The entryway for this Phase includes a masonry courtyard connecting the parking lots for the public for all functioning components. In all, there are 340 parking spaces for employees and visitors.
Interim Director of the FEMA Louisiana Recovery Office Bill Doran said, “Congratulations to the city on today’s groundbreaking. The new justice complex will provide a safe and secure juvenile detention facility as well as a state-of-the-art building for those who work in the juvenile court system. As the city moves closer to full recovery, FEMA remains steadfast in aiding local recovery endeavors through the coordination of federal taxpayers’ dollars.”
Some of the best practices features of this facility include: open design housing components for detainees, fully equipped kitchen to provide juvenile dietary services, flexible housing components allowing population shifts and separation of gender, state-of-the-art security systems for management efficiencies, centralized sally port spaces to accommodate in-house and incoming juveniles, layout spaces to maintain separation of victims from perpetrators, spaces to accommodate outside counsel for court-related issues, and special waiting areas for family-related accompanist.
The project has been developed with multiple end users and has emphasized shared services and spaces to achieve budget objectives.
Deputy Mayor of Facilities, Infrastructure and Community Development Cedric Grant said, “Working with our partners in the juvenile justice community and FEMA, we have designed the New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center to be a facility that meets the needs of our youth and helps put them back on a path towards prosperity; a place where they can rededicate themselves to their future.”
Glenn D. Holt, Superintendent of the Youth Study Center New Orleans said, “The new facility will allow us to provide quality evidence-based programming that will allow each youth the opportunity receive quality services from a highly professional and committed staff. It will be a national leader in providing the highest quality of care and programming to at-risk youth in our community. Which will hold them behaviorally accountable while giving them the opportunity to learn and grow into healthy, productive, and positive contributors to the community.”
Dana Kaplan, Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana said, “The groundbreaking of the New Orleans Juvenile Justice Complex is a major milestone for the city of New Orleans, and in particular its efforts to improve its juvenile justice system. Under the recent federal consent decree and with the leadership of the City and Youth Study Center Administration, there has been a turnaround in conditions and programming at the center. Breaking ground on the facility is the latest and final step in this turnaround. Without the leadership of the City, the commitment from the Administration of YSC, and collaboration with local community partners this would not have been possible. It is an important step in moving New Orleans towards a juvenile justice system that is fair, effective, improves public safety and uses taxpayer dollars wisely, of which we can all be proud. JJPL applauds this historical moment.”
A rendering of the New Orleans Juvenile Justice Center is attached here.