Center aims to curtail juvenile crime - KLFY News 10

Center aims to curtail juvenile crime

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When it comes to juveniles and crime, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office is trying something new.

"We want to process and correct the thought process that went into the crime and that's basically where we come in," said Kennis Metoyer, administrator of the Juvenile Assessment Center.

The center, which is located at the Corrections Center on Poydras Street, officially opened in August and Metoyer says their facility is the single entry point for juveniles in the parish following an arrest. It's also an opportunity for early intervention.

With the help of specialists, a course of action is tailored to the kid's specific needs, whether it is drug problems, grades, behavioral or emotional issues. Their program is modeled after similar successful centers around the country, including Calcasieu Parish and Jefferson Parish.

"It shows if you get early involvement with these kids, with their parents, school system, and with the community, you'll have great results," said Metoyer.

JAC is supported by many different entities including the local school system, Lafayette Consolidated Government, the District Attorney's Office and the 15th District Judicial Court. Prior to the center's opening, Metoyer says the way of processing juveniles and particularly the record keeping was fragmented. Now, the centralized processing helps target trending problems and habitual offenders. According to JAC's records, the three most common juvenile crimes are theft, drugs, and fighting.

"We can't control who comes here, but we can control who comes back," said Metoyer. "We want to try and make sure everyone who comes through here is a first time offender. We hate to see habitual offenders come back, habitual kids come back."

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