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Jetson Center for Youth Shows Off Its Reformed Ways

Several years ago, a common sight at Jetson Center for Youth was shackled and handcuffed teenagers clad in orange jumpsuits shuffling across the prison campus under the watchful eyes of uniformed guards.

But things have changed at Jetson, once notorious for violence and brutality.

There are no uniformed guards there anymore and the teens at the facility are now dressed in khaki pants and maroon polo shirts.

During a recent luncheon, nearly all of the 74 teens now living at the Baker, Louisiana, facility mingled —and were seated at tables — with visitors, including state legislators.

Jetson's “Celebration of Change” luncheon honored people who have helpedthe state with its efforts to reform the juvenile justice system.

Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Kitty Kimball was named thefirst recipient of the Louisiana Champion of Juvenile Justice Award. She was unable to attend the luncheon.

Mary Livers, the deputy secretary of the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice, credited Kimball, who serves on the state Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission, with helping to push reforms forward and make sure the facility has adequate resources.

Instead of using a “corrections approach” — which was used at Jetsonin the past and is similar to the way an adult prison is run — Jetson now operates under a therapeutic method. Deron Brown, the director of Jetson, said the staff are trained in the alternative, evidence-based method, which is modeled after the nationally recognized system in Missouri. Secretary Livers stressed her confidence in the effectiveness of the therapeutic system and in the new and improved Jetson Center for Youth. 

“We still have a lot to do here at Jetson,” Livers said. “But we’ve been doing this for a little over a year now and we are already seeing promising results.”

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Models for Change is supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, website operated by Justice Policy Institute.