Leaders discuss possible changes at jail after teen's suicide

Jade Cunningham talks about a meeting held at City Hall on the death of 15-year-old Jaquin Thomas.

NEW ORLEANS – City leaders are discussing what can be done differently Tuesday at a City Hall meeting that addressed concerns surround the death of a teenaged inmate.

The meeting, sparked by 15-year-old Jaquin Thomas’ suicide in Orleans Justice Center, included representatives from the jail, judges and other local officials. The main topic at hand during the meeting was what changes are needed so cases like Thomas' does not happen again.

Officials went through Thomas' case from the moment he was arrested to the time of his suicide. They looked at all of his court documents, the time between hearings, and his time behind bars, including the fact he was housed with only 16 and 17-year-olds.

Councilman Jason Williams mentioned when it comes to juveniles behind bars, there are things with the system that need to change.

"Tremendous risks are involved with placing young people in their formative years in the same custody as adult, hardened offenders," said Williams. "This is not about giving juveniles special privileges, or taking it easy on juveniles. So, if anyone says that please rebuke it. It is simply about treating them humanely, treating them fairly, and trying to give them the services they need while they are detained."

Officials also said Thomas had gotten into a fight with another 16-year-old inmate, however, that incident was not a factor behind his suicide.

(© 2016 WWL)


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