Safety changes coming to Swanson

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 10:13 PM CDT
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MONROE, La. (KNOE) - The Deputy Secretary of the Office of Juvenile Justice met with officials at Swanson Correctional Center on July 28 to brainstorm ways to make the facility safer.

William Sommers acknowledged that there continue to be problems at the facility, but they are working to fix them.

“We’re working every single day to try and make this facility better and safer,” said Somers. “Safer for our kids that are here, safer for our youth, but safer for our staff.”

After at least three different escape incidents this year, Sommers understands why people in the community are upset.

“It’s our jobs to keep these kids in,” Sommers told KNOE. “I have said it once on this same television station that we are not doing a very good job keeping kids in, and that’s on me.”

The state is putting money towards building a new fence which should be up within a couple of weeks.

“It’ll be a no-climb fence that goes from the bottom to the top, where you can’t get your hands on it,” said Sommers. “It’s a razor fencing. It’s horizontal, so you really don’t want to grab it.”

Sommers says one of the best ways to combat the violence at Swanson is to hire more corrections officers.

“There is safety in numbers. The more people you have on sight, the better you are,” said Sommers. “And that’s one of the biggest things right there is numbers.”

Sommers is making a plea to anyone who thinks they have what it takes to be a corrections officer at Swanson.

“If you want a job, if you need a job, we’re hiring,” explained Sommers. “We need correctional officers. We are at a critical time in our juncture right now.”

Ambrose Douzart, the President of the Ouachita Parish Chapter of the NAACP, is hoping the new facility will end the troubles at Swanson once and for all.

“The facilities that they are going to build are state of the art,” said Douzart. “It’s going to have all of the things that will be necessary to keep them incarcerated without breaking out.”

Deputy Secretary Sommers says the facility should be completed by the end of 2022.

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