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Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center Wins 2023 PbS Barbara Allen-Hagen Award

To prepare for Louisiana’s Raise the Age to take effect in March 2019, the PbS team at Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center (FPJDC) created more direct care staff positions and filled vacancies, increased training and communications and watched their data. FPJDC is a 133-bed co-educational facility located in Covington, across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.

One month after the law went into effect, the population at FPJDC jumped from 42 to 69 young men and women, the number of assaults and fights doubled and more young people were injured. The team at FPJDC immediately launched a multi-pronged initiative to ensure that everyone in the facility was safe. They focused their PbS Facility Improvement Plan (FIP) on reducing assaults and fights and eliminating injuries to young people by other young people.

The PbS team convened a facility-wide meeting with staff, which resulted in the creation of an orientation housing unit for incoming young people only. The goal of the five-day program is to create a positive first experience for the young people and begin to establish trust with staff. The young people learn about the facility rules, expectations, programs and setting goals. For those who are released after their 72-hour continued custody hearing, they avoid being exposed to all aspects of detention.

Getting to know the young people, the FPJDC staff learned that gang activity was a catalyst for the fights and assaults. As gangs were previously uncommon in the region, the FPJDC team quickly developed expertise in the gang names and territories and worked with the courts and law enforcement to identify young people affiliated with gangs to keep them separate to prevent altercations and to communicate the information to staff. They also conducted mediation sessions with the young people to quell disagreements, teach problem-solving skills and avoid incidents. Unit competitions and parties were added along with other incentives for positive behavior.
FPJDC provided verbal de-escalation training, which included role playing, peer support and the Tension/Tension Reduction Cycle (TTRC) of their Handle with Care behavior management system.

In addition, staff reviewed video recordings of incidents, discussed what could have been done to prevent the incident and gave the staff involved feedback.

In October 2022, the number of fights and assaults had dropped from 10 to 2 and there were no injuries to young people.

Congratulations to the FPJDC team! We thank you for your dedication and commitment to treating every young person as one of our own.

Watch the video to learn more about this year’s Barbara Allen-Hagen Award detention and assessment category winner.


Read more about:  Awards, Barbara Allen-Hagen

About the author

Kim Godfrey Lovett

Kim Godfrey Lovett

Kim is the executive director of the PbS Learning Institute. Kim was hired when CJCA incorporated in 1994 and has worked since it's inception to create the PbS system of continuous improvement to help facilities and agencies raise the quality of life and better conditions of confinement in youth facilities nationwide. She earned two master’s degrees: in journalism (Northwestern University) and criminal justice (Northeastern University.) She worked as a newspaper reporter for seven years prior to joining CJCA.

PbS has been a partner in assisting this facility to become a dynamic work environment that is not satisfied with maintaining the status quo.