State examiners checking Assumption site for youth center

A St. James Parish administration official advised the Parish Council the Louisiana Department of Children and Family Services expects to finish evaluating the proposed site of the relocated St. James Youth Center by Friday.

Ridgely Mitchell, confidential assistant to the parish president, said the department began its evaluation of Assumption Parish’s adult detention center on Tuesday and should be completed by the end of the week.

Also during the council’s meeting Wednesday, state Sen. Troy Brown, D-Napoleonville, said he plans to file legislation seeking from Children and Family Services a two-year waiver giving Assumption Parish enough time to complete the structural requirements needed to turn its current adult detention facility into a youth detention facility.

Brown’s Senate District 2 includes parts of St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Iberville, Lafourche, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist and West Baton Rouge parishes.

If Children and Family Services authorities are satisfied that 50 percent of structural requirements have been met by the end of the two-year period, Brown said, the bill would give Assumption Parish one more year to complete the remaining requirements.

“We’re going to be filing that legislation to accommodate giving adequate time rather than requiring it be done within a short period of time,” Brown said.

Brown said he is filing the waiver legislation at the request of Assumption Parish Sheriff Mike Waguespack, who is leading the drive to relocate the St. James Youth Center to Napoleonville.

St. James Parish government officials have said they will close the detention center, situated on the west bank of the Mississippi River adjacent to the Sunshine Bridge near Donaldsonville, on June 30 because of new state regulations that will drive up the cost of operating the facility.

Children and Family Services officials will begin licensing juvenile detention facilities this year.