Photos: Opening phase on new juvenile facility in Avoyelles

Across the street from a small Baptist church and sandwiched between acres of soybeans and sugarcane, earth-moving equipment and scattered dirt piles serve as some of the few visual cues to one of the state’s most high-profile symbols of its juvenile justice reform efforts.

The site, located on the southern edge of this small Avoyelles Parish town between Lafayette and Alexandria, featured more visitors than usual on Thursday as state and local officials converged to celebrate the beginning phases of construction on Louisiana’s newest juvenile “secure care” facility. The term, coined as a euphemism for juvenile prisons, more accurately fits the description of the Acadiana Center for Youth than any previously built juvenile lockup, officials say, such the Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe, the Bridge City Center for Youth in New Orleans and the recently closed Jetson Center for Youth in Baker.