FRANKLINTON, La. -- The Washington Parish Jail houses around 150 inmates, and since last week, La.Cecia Brown says her 15-year-old son, and two friends, one 15 and the other 16, have been part of that count.
"Got into a couple of fights in there, with adults,” she said, “And I just feel like it ain’t right. I just feel like my son shouldn't be housed in general population with adults because he ain't nothing but a child."
Bogalusa police arrested Brown's son and five others for aggravated rape in connection with two incidents involving victims who are also underage.
Authorities say the suspects and the victims, ages ranging from 11 to 16, are all developmentally challenged. All of the suspects initially were sent to the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center, but a judge's ruling last week sent the three oldest to the parish jail to await trial as adults.
The issue for Brown isn't that her son is in jail. It's that the teens aren't being separated from the adults. It's an issue the sheriff's office shares and is trying to change too.
"We've taken every step we can to protect them from any harm," Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Mike Haley said. "There have really been no problems with two of the juveniles. We have had some behavioral problems with one."
LaToyia Porter, with "Walk with Me" Community Improvement Center, said, “The sheriff's office here is doing what they can but the bottom line is they are still kids and they just don't need to be housed here because the facility is not equipped for kids."
The catch in this case is that the attorney for the sheriff's office, and a spokesman for District Attorney Walter Reed, says no one really has control over this. Not the jail, and not the judges, because the actual statute the kids are charged with requires this action.
It makes the effort to move the teens back to the juvenile system a tough one, but not something the parents, or the jail, is giving up on.
That spokesman for the district attorney says the case is being evaluated by the office. A court hearing to reconsider the placement of the boys is scheduled for Nov. 18. Family and friends are planning a rally at the jail next week.