Juvenile Justice Improvements

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

A new bill seeks to bring Mississippi's juvenile court and youth detention reform systems up to federal standards.

The measure, written by House Juvenile Justice Chairman George Flaggs, would convert Columbia training school, a secure correctional facility, into a preventative treatment facility.

Delinquent youths would be housed at Oakley, allowing the state to consolidate the two secure training schools.

The legislation would also create community-based programs to prevent incarcerated youths from becoming repeat offenders. The Mississippi Juvenile Justice Alternative Sanctions Grant Program is bonding $5 million and allowing local governments to match the funds and create their own solutions to juvenile delinquency.

Flaggs, a Democrat from Vicksburg, says the legislation would also provide adequate medical and education services to children in detention centers, like the Columbia and Oakley training schools.

Oakley and Columbia have come under more scrutiny in recent years since allegations were raised indicating that youth offenders were abused.

A Justice Department report says that young people at the two campuses had been hogtied, shackled to poles and ordered to eat their own vomit when they got sick from exertion.

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