OJJ names new director for Jetson

After serving as interim director of the Jetson Center for Youth since July, the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice has removed the interim tag from Angela Sutton’s title, making her the head of the secure care facility.

Jerel Giarrusso, spokeswoman for OJJ, confirmed Sutton’s appointment in an email.

Sutton was appointed interim director of Jetson in July when former Jetson Director Daron Brown was placed on leave and later resigned. Sutton started working at Jetson on March 5 as assistant director, Giarrusso said.

Before coming to Louisiana, Sutton worked in Indiana as a treatment supervisor at the maximum-security Pendleton Juvenile Correctional Facility and then as a superintendent at the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility, according to OJJ.

Sutton received both her master’s and bachelor’s degrees in criminal justice from Southern University in New Orleans and worked in 1999 as a case manager at the 22nd Judicial Drug Court in St. Tammany Parish, OJJ said.

Brown resigned Aug. 1 after being placed on administrative leave July 7, the day after he was involved in what he said was a high-speed, two-hour chase of a vehicle that contained two Jetson escapees.

An internal investigation found that Brown did not “violate OJJ policy or state law,” and he was cleared of any wrongdoing, Giarrusso said.

The two workers who “failed to adequately observe” the youths have been terminated, Giarrusso said.

The Advocate requested a copy of Brown’s investigation file, and Giarrusso said the file should be made available Friday.

While off-duty, Brown decided to follow-up “on his own” on a tip he overheard on the police radio regarding the location of a vehicle believed to be carrying the escapees.

Law enforcement representatives from the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, Baton Rouge Police Department, Kenner Police Department and State Police have all said they never located the pursuit and were never notified by other drivers about the chase, which allegedly occurred on July 6 and spanned Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge to Kenner.

The two youths, Demonte Washington and Clarence Williams, removed part of the exterior fence surrounding Jetson and slid under it to escape.

Authorities found Washington and Williams four days later in a house in the 1000 block of America Street.

Another escape occurred at Jetson on Dec. 27, 2011, when three teens cut through the exterior fence before walking away from the facility, authorities have said. The teens, one of whom was a convicted rapist, were found six hours later about 8 miles from the center’s campus on Scenic Highway near Baker.

An investigation into the escape found that two employees left a dormitory housing teens unsupervised for eight hours, allowing the teens to pry loose ceiling tiles in the bathroom, gain access to an adjoining room through the ceiling and flee the grounds, authorities have said. During the same time frame, two other employees failed to monitor the grounds at Jetson, the investigation found.

Three of the employees were fired and another one resigned in lieu of termination, Mary Livers, OJJ’s deputy secretary, has said.

One of the employees who was fired appealed the disciplinary action to the state’s Civil Service Commission and has since been reinstated.