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Louisiana Reconfiguring Teen Prisons After Assaults On Staff

Michele Piazza’s face swelled up with bruises. Her leg was broken in more than one place. She was beaten so severely that a year later, she has physical and mental health challenges. Piazza has worked in prisons and secure care facilities for 18 years. She never got so much as a scratch as a guard at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, one of the largest maximum security prisons. She went to work for the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice two years ago. The assault occurred a year into her job at the Acadiana Center for Youth in Bunkie, one of Louisiana’s six secure care facilities for youth convicted of crimes, reports News From The States.


Teenagers decided to break out of the facility last year. When Piazza tried to restrain one of them, he shattered her leg, she said. Her attacker was a 14-year-old who was trying to escape with an 18-year-old resident. Piazza’s brutal assault is not an isolated incident. Former residents, child advocates and employees have described several of the secure care facilities for juveniles as chaotic over the past year. William Sommers, who took over the juvenile justice system 19 months ago, put together a plan that he says will increase safety in the state’s secure care centers. His strategy largely focuses on changing the facilities' physical makeup, reconfiguring the layout of living quarters and fortifying structures to more closely resemble adult correctional facilities. Significant changes to the programming or rehabilitative services have not been included in the plan that Sommers has described.

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