Fourteen Louisiana juveniles expelled from Alabama detention center after riot

Staff Report

Fourteen alleged juvenile offenders were forced out of a Dothan, Ala., juvenile detention center last week after they instigated a riot at the facility.

Their expulsion from the facility has created a quandary for District Attorney Tony Clayton and sheriffs in the 18th Judicial District, who are scrambling to find a detention center that will take them.

The ouster has added to the frustration Clayton and law enforcement officials share about the lack of a holding facility for juveniles.

Clayton said the notification of their ouster caught him off-guard.

District Attorney Tony Clayton

“It’s pathetic, and I told them so,” he said. “It’s just shameful that our state is not giving us some place to put these kids.”

Among the teens sent back to Louisiana was a 14-year-old who allegedly shot Tramone McGinnis in Iberville Parish’s first homicide of 2022.

The release of the juveniles adds to the frustration sheriffs share regarding the lack of a detention facility for alleged juvenile offenders.

“We’re back to Square 1,” Stassi said. “We lost Alabama, and that was the only state taking them.

“As far as we know, Alabama was the last option,” he said. “The safety of the citizens of Iberville depends on us taking these problems off the street, and we know that leg monitors are not the answer.”

The expulsions should send a loud message to the state, according to an official from the West Baton Rouge Sheriff’s Office.

“We need a juvenile facility to incarcerate these violent offenders,” Maj. Zach Simmers said. “It’s a real problem that needs real addressing.

“We have zero options right now. We don’t know where to turn or what to do,” he said. “We’re not talking about kids who stole candy from a candy store – we’re talking about violent offenders.”

Some of them were repeat violent offenders, Simmers said.

“They’re getting away with it once again,” he said. ‘It really says something when you’re too bad to be incarcerated. It’s a problem that we need to get a handle on before it becomes even more out of control.”

The ongoing struggle to house juvenile suspects should serve as a wakeup call to state officials, according to Pointe Coupee Sheriff Rene Thibodeaux.

“It just shows you the importance and necessity for Louisiana to have a facility,” he said. “We can’t rely on someone else for our own problems.”