Owner file

Lawyers file lawsuit against OJJ

BATON ROUGE, La. (WGNO) — A team of attorneys filed a lawsuit Friday against Gov. John Bel Edwards and the Bureau of Juvenile Justice to prevent the transfer of underage detainees from Bridge City to Angola.

After several escapes this year, Jefferson Parish Councilman Deano Bonano said it was the wrong decision.

“Bridge City’s backyard is the people’s backyard. So every time they escape, they’re walking into someone’s backyard,” Bonano said. “We catch them on Ring cameras trying to break into people’s cars, people’s homes and how no one has been hurt in Bridge City is pure miracle.”

In July, Governor Edwards said he would manage the situation and move the violent miners to Angola. However, a group of lawyers, including Ron Haley, believe this poses a different security risk.

“We do not believe under any circumstances that young offenders should be housed in the same place as adults,” Haley said.

So they filed a class action lawsuit to keep young people where they believe they belong.

“As part of this lawsuit, we are seeking an immediate injunction from the Middle District of Louisiana, essentially putting in place a temporary restraining order to prevent these children from being moved,” Haley said.

OJJ has previously said minors will not be accommodated in the same area as adults, but if a judge sides with the lawyers, it could halt the whole process. It would create more problems for Crescent City.

“We said to the governor, it wasn’t if, it was when one of these violent offenders was going to hurt someone,” Bonano said. “You know, in this last escape, the assailant, in one day, grabbed a gun, tried to distract the victim, and then shot him. It’s only by grace God they are still alive and this victim has been in intensive care for several weeks.

General Counsel Scott Walker released a statement to WGNO saying in part, “It’s up to the state to decide where they go, but they shouldn’t be in Bridge City.”

OJJ has not commented on the lawsuit.