Mayor touts construction of new Juvenile Justice Center amid controversy

New Orleans, La. — Dumptrucks rumbled to and from a Gentilly construction site Tuesday. In between the trips, there was a groundbreaking ceremony, marking a major milestone for the city.

“Okay, you’re ready? All right, one, two, three,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu as he and other city officials took part in the ceremony at the site.

“This new facility will help turn around a lot of young children whose lives are at risk,” said Landrieu in talking about the new $32 million Juvenile Justice Center that will go up on the site. ┬áIt will replace the often-ridiculed Youth Study Center, which houses dozens of juveniles accused of serious crimes who are awaiting trial.

The 59,000-sq. foot complex will be unlike anything the city has had before. It will offer myriad services for juvenile delinquents 24 hours daily, including mental health and family services.

The new facility follows a consent decree hashed out after the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana sued the city in 2007 over the conditions juveniles were being held in at the Youth Study Center.

“Frequent suicide attempts and incidents of children being sent to the hospital,” described Dana Kaplan, executive director of the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana.

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