Youth riot at state juvenile prison in North Louisiana

Arrest warrants on file in the Fourth Judicial District Court describe a violent riot at the Swanson Center for Youth on July 11.

Swanson is a secure care facility for adjudicated youth offenders and is operated by the state Office of Juvenile Justice.

Six are facing charges in connection with the incident, which took place inside the Pecan Dormitory at the facility.

According to arrest warrants filed in connection with the incident, multiple offenders participated in a major disruption, flipping the security desk and sofa chairs at the home and throwing other objects around the dorm's day area. 

Multiple offenders are also charged with battering guards and threatening harm if their actions were interfered with.

All warrants were filed on Wednesday and the suspects were booked into Ouachita Correctional Center on Thursday.

Beth Touchet-Morgan, executive management advisor, said in an email that the incident occurred in one dormitory at the facility and was not-campus wide. Six over the age of 17 were arrested. No additional arrests of juvenile offenders took place. 

A warrant for Leonte Poindexter, 19, Lockport, states he was caught on camera throwing a trash can and pulling an offender phone from the wall and smashing it on the floor.

When a juvenile justice specialist attempted to take Poindexter to another unit on site, the offender reported broke free from flex cuffs and punched the specialist in the face. A second punch was delivered when the specialist attempted to put Poindexter in a cell. The entire event was reportedly caught on camera.

Poindexter is charged with battery of a correctional facility employee, simple criminal damage to property and riot. Bond was set at $75,000 on his new charges.

Juan Tapia, 19, Holden is facing charges of simple criminal damage to property and riot due to his participation in the incident. Video footage reportedly shows Tapia toppling and throwing furniture. Bond was set at $40,000.

Demetri Phillips, 18, Baton Rouge, is charged with battery of a correctional facility employee, simple criminal damage to property, aggravated escape and riot for reportedly throwing furniture and engaging in a physical altercation with a worker.

According to his warrant, Phillips kicked the front exit door in the dorm and damaged the locking mechanism. When a specialist attempted to restrain Phillips, he was reportedly punched in the chest.

Phillips then reportedly blocked the rear door of the dorm, using a table and two chairs before exiting the dorm through front door. He was later apprehended and taken to the Cypress Unit at Swanson approximately one hour after his last recorded participation in the disturbance.

Bond was set at $120,000.

Jacob Hardyway, 18, Ruston, is facing charges of battery of a correctional facility employee, simple criminal damage to property, aggravated escape and riot. According to his warrant, after participating in a group effort to kick out the front door entrance, Hardway and several other offenders were restrained in a corner before returning to the dorm's day room.

Three minutes later, Hardyway reportedly pushed a specialist out of the way and forced the front door open and exited the dorm at approximately 10:27 p.m. He was apprehended and placed at Cypress Unit at approximately 11:11 p.m.

Bond was set at $120,000.

A fifth offender, William Lewis, 17, was booked on charges of simple criminal damage to property and aggravated escape. Lewis reportedly participated in the furniture flipping and damaging the front door of the property before escaping through the front entrance. He was taken to the Cypress Unit approximately 19 minutes after escaping.

The last warrant on file, as of Friday, in connection with the case, charges Rashad Thornton, 17, Violet, with simple escape for running out of the dorm without permission. The report states he was escorted to Cypress Unit approximately 25 minutes after running away from his dorm.

Bond was set at $20,000. Per the OCC website, Thornton was released to another jurisdiction.

Swanson incidents in 2017

Swanson is a secure care facility for adjudicated youth offenders. In 2017, multiple offenders have faced new charges that necessitated their transfer to an adult facility. These incidents are recorded in arrest warrants on file at the Ouachita Parish Clerk of Court's office.

Escape in January

In 2017, multiple offenders have faced new charges that necessitated their transfer to an adult facility.

On Jan. 30, three inmates escaped after overpowering their guard.

According to an arrest affidavit for one of the suspects, Kiore Collins, 17, New Orleans, a worker at the facility reported she was working in a dormitory at Swanson and preparing to escort her offenders from a day room to an upstairs sleeping area when she was overpowered by Reginald Sanders,17, after she opened the doorway to the stairs.

She said Sanders forced her down on the floor and began to choke her and held her hands over her mouth and nose while Collins and the third inmate, Damion Givens, 16, took her dorm keys and portable radio. A fourth inmate, Kelvin Provost, 19, Hammond, was waiting downstairs, according to the warrant.

The inmates gathered a trashcan and mattress that were used to effect their escape over the perimeter fence.

Sanders was apprehended inside the fence at the facility. Givens was taken into custody the next day while Collins and Provost remained at large until Feb. 4.

Collins will return to court on July 25 where a motion to request his transfer from Swanson to the Richland Parish Detention Center will be heard. He entered a plea of not guilty on March 23.

Sanders entered a plea of guilty to a charge of attempted simple escape on July 6. He was sentenced to one year of hard labor to run consecutively with any juvenile sentence.

Provost will next appear in court on July 27. He also entered a plea of not guilty on March 23.

Employee faces malfeasance charge

On April 19, a worker at the Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe was charged with the introduction of contraband to state correctional facility and malfeasance in office.

According to an arrest report for Terrance Baines, 25, 124 Jennifer Lane, Apt. D, investigators at the center monitoring telephone calls heard offender Aaron Farrar, 19, phone his father at 8:30 p.m.

During the phone call, Farrar reportedly received confirmation that his dad had met with a staff member and given him money that was later used to purchase marijuana.

Farrar was charged with one count of possession of contraband in a state correctional facility. He entered a guilty plea to a charge of possession of marijuana on April 27 and was sentenced to one year at hard labor to run concurrent with any sentence.

Per the plea terms, the defendant would not have to complete his sentence at Swanson and could withdraw the plea if he returned to the center.

Arraignment for Baines is set for Aug. 10.

Inmate charged with battery

On April 30, Bentavious Brown, 18, Delhi, was booked into OCC on charges of battery of a corrections facility employee and attempted simple escape following an incident at the facility.

A Juvenile Justice Specialist reported he was located in the Victory Dormitory at Swanson. He said he opened a cell door in the dormitory and was attacked by Bentavious Brown and a second offender from behind.

He reported the two offenders knocked him to the floor, and stomped him in the face, head and back several times. Per the report, he also said the offenders attempted to choke him in the cell door while attempting to obtain his security keys.

The second inmate involved in the incident was not transferred to adult custody.

Brown entered a not guilty plea on June 15 and will return to court Aug. 9.

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© 2017 WWL-TV


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