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Jefferson Parish leaders call for Bridge City Center for Youth to be closed

“They need to get more staff in there now. That’s going to happen apparently tonight.”

BRIDGE CITY, La. — Enough is enough.

Jefferson Parish leaders are now calling for the Bridge City Center for Youth to be closed.

“This facility is not under control,” JP Councilman Deano Bonano said. “The staff doesn’t have control over it. They’re outmanned, understaffed.”

“We have to close this facility,” Sen. Pat Connick, R-Marrero said. “We have to get the violent inmates out and keep this neighborhood safe. Right now, it’s not safe.”

Thursday night, around 10 p.m., about 20 inmates broke out of their dorms and took control of the jail.

Bonano and Connick were with the JPSO Swat team as deputies retook the facility.

“From what I’m told, there was a fight between two groups, one from Baton Rouge, one from Orleans Parish,” Connick said. “They were after one person in particular. That person ran and hid and then things got out of control.”

A group of inmates also broke into the prison infirmary.

Bonano says a nurse locked herself in a closet to protect herself.

That’s when deputies arrived to restore order.

“The staff itself was overpowered by about 20 of the inmates here,” Bonano said. “It’s a very alarming, very scary situation here. There’s about 12-13 guards I saw of which only two were male.”

The JPSO was able to put down the uprising around midnight.

This comes less than 24 hours after 5 inmates escaped into the surrounding neighborhood.

Home security showed the teenagers running through a yard in Bridge City.

All the escapees are now back in custody.

“I was told that four of the kids that were recaptured yesterday were the main suspects who started the fight and the riot, last night,” Bonano said.

Bonano plans to bring a resolution to the JP Council, urging the state to transfer the inmates out of Bridge City and shutter the jail.

This is a state facility operated and guarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice.

Connick says the governor is aware of the uprising and promised to send help.

“They need to get more staff in there now,” he said. “That’s going to happen apparently tonight.”

Local leaders met Monday in Baton Rouge with OJJ and other state public safety officials to discuss this week's problems and a possible time table for shutting down the facility.

Gov. Edwards announced tat the state will send state troopers and Department of Corrections personnel to the Bridge City Center for Youth to support the staff. 

“Our goal is to make certain the unfortunate incidents that recently occurred at both facilities will not be repeated," Edwards said. "It is an urgent situation, and this immediate solution will be in place for as long as necessary as we work to put a long term staffing plan in place to ensure the safety of the youth who have been entrusted to our care as well as the staff.  

Rep. Connick said long-term solutions are in the works as well, including work being done to the facility in Baker, La., where violent juvenile offenders will be housed and properly supervised in the near future.

Two inmates and one guard were injured during the uprising.

OJJ transferred some of the Bridge City inmates involved in the altercation to another state facility.

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