Lafayette Parish Juvenile Assessment Center closing due to funding issues

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LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Lafayette Parish’s Juvenile Assessment Center (JAC) will be closing Monday, Nov. 18 due to a lack of funding from the city-parish government. However, the city-parish government states they were unaware there were any issues that would lead to a closure.

In a press release this morning, the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office (LPSO) announced the closure, citing the city-parish government’s failure to provide funding. But City-Parish Government (LCG) Spokeswoman Cydra Wingerter stated that the press release was the first time the issue had been brought up.

The JAC runs a number of diversion programs focused on keeping youth out of the justice system. It is used by all the parish’s law enforcement agencies and courts. The funding is split between the LPSO and the LCG, though the LPSO runs the facility. It first opened in 2013 and has not previously had any funding issues.

LPSO Public Information Officer John Mowell said the LCG agreed to $267,000 in funding by March 1, but has not contributed to the budget since 2017. The LPSO only represents 13% of the center’s services, but has had to pay 100% of the bill. Lafayette Police represents 58% of the services.

Usage of the Juvenile Assessment Center by agency. Courtesy of Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office

Mowell said the JAC serves an urgent need to keep young offenders out of the justice system with diversion programs. This not only helps the children in need but also alleviates the burden on the judicial system.

“There’s a whole host of services,” said Mowell. “They work on keeping the kids from getting in trouble and finding resources to stay out of trouble.”

Wingerter, however, said the LCG hasn’t been made aware of what was needed for the JAC to operate.

“Given the nature of the information, we’re still trying to figure out what all this means,” she said. “We’re working now to find a solution.”

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