Reforming Louisiana's juvenile justice system
Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal recently laid out three bills to reform juvenile and adult justice systems.
Two of the proposals deal with the Family in Need of Services, FINS, program for juveniles with relatively minor behavioral problems at home or school.
In some parts of the state, the low-risk but high-needs FINS kids are sent into the same system as more violent delinquents.
Caddo Parish authorities say studies show that putting a low-risk kid into the same facility as a high-risk offender usually results in two high-risk juveniles rather than reforming them.
"You do not as a rule want to mix low-risk kids with high risk," says Clay Walker, director of Caddo Parish Juvenile Services. "We don't want to take a FINS kid who's just having trouble at school and talking back to his mom and put him in the detention center with kids that are committing armed robbery or rape."
Caddo Parish already operates as the upcoming proposals intend- with a two-track system. Since 1981, Volunteers for Youth Justice has helped minor offenders while the court system handles delinquents with more serious issues.
LA Senator Greg Tarver (D-Shreveport) was tapped to write one of the pieces of legislation dealing with the FINS program.
The Louisiana State Legislative session begins Monday, April 8.
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