Louisiana is beginning the $60 million process of replacing two 70-to-100-year-old youth prisons with newer, “Therapeutic Model” buildings.

Deputy Secretary for the Office of Juvenile Justice Dr. James Bueche says they think they can pay for the new facilities by applying for bonds and paying those bonds with future savings.

“We will be paying the debt service from the savings that we will realize from operating older, outdated facilities.”

The office will have to before the bond commission and apply for the bonds before any potential construction could take place.

Bueche says the older facilities are falling apart and in constant need to repair, which costs a lot of money. He says the new buildings will be smaller, safer, and more efficient.

“72 bed instead of the larger, older facility that we have now. Having 12 kids in the dorm instead of the larger dorms that we have that are built for 50 to 60 kids per dorm.”

The plan is to replace the Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe, and The Center for Youth outside of New Orleans.

Bueche says the more therapeutic approach has paid dividends in other cities, not just by saving money on maintenance, but by reducing recidivism.

“Staff interact more appropriately with kids, more often with kids, and in an effective way, and hopefully with the kids being in this type of program that outcomes will be better.”

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