Reforms expected in Caddo juvenile justice system

The parish is one of 7 locations in the U.S. that will take part in the Transforming Juvenile Probation program

Caddo juvenile justice system could be taking a step toward probation instead of incarceration

SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) — Reforms soon could be on the way in the Caddo Parish juvenile justice system.

That was the word from parish leaders at a news conference at Government Plaza in downtown Shreveport.

Caddo’s juvenile justice system could be taking a big step forward to help get more kids into probation and fewer into lockup, officials announced Tuesday morning.

It’s all part of a five-day training program next week at Georgetown University during which a Caddo Parish team will learn about new ideas and ways to implement them.

Caddo Juvenile Court Judge Ree Casey-Jones explained that the goal is to help keep more kids from being incarcerated.

“We have been given some difficult tasks here in Caddo Parish and throughout the state of Louisiana. And we have a lot of unfunded mandates. And so we’re trying to find additional resources.”

Caddo Parish is one of seven locations in the country that will take part in the Transforming Juvenile Probation program.

Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond said he liked what he heard. “Our juveniles, our young adults, they can have an opportunity to improve their lives and get on the right path versus being incarcerated.”

Caddo District Attorney James Stewart also supports the program. “We’re looking forward to participating in this trip to Washington, D.C., and bringing information back that we can implement to help our parish better.”

Caddo’s Juvenile Services and Court System, the Caddo Commission, the district attorney’s office, Shreveport police and Volunteers for Youth Justice are all part of this probation reform effort.

This is all good news for Kelli Todd, executive director of VYJ.

“We bring diversion programs for all of these entities to use. And we’re so pleased to get together, learn about how we can enhance and improve our programs so it will benefit all of our partners that are going with us.”

Reforms also could help ease chronic overcrowding at the Caddo Juvenile Detention Center; especially since 17-year-olds will come there next year, parish leaders explained.

The team that will head to Washington, D.C., on Sunday includes a member from each of the agencies and offices involved in the project.

As for any specifics on what could change, KSLA News 12 is told that will have to wait until the team returns home.

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