July, 20 2018

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School for Troubled Teens

Some residents in Judice are less than happy that a school for troubled teenage boys is about to open in their own backyard. A private company has been awarded a contract to build one in south Lafayette Parish. They've already purchased property in Judice, and as KATC's David D'Aquin found out, they're planning to be open in the next few months.

This is the site where a large school will soon be built for thirty-six teenage boys who are considered "at-risk." "It's not a jail - it's a school," emphasises Board Member Dru Milke. However, some neighbors aren't so sure. D'Aquin spoke with some residents who refused to appear on camera - but say they're worried about a facility locating on Hoffpauir Road in Judice.

Associate Marine Institutes, the parent company, has formed a board of directors in Lafayette. Milke is on the board, and he's been developing homes near the site. He says he doesn't see any danger in locating the school here, and the location is strategic.

The school will be a residential treatment center. A facility where these boys will be able to get counseling and support. This is not jail, for most of these boys this type of treatment will provide a much needed wake up call. Some states house many different residential and wilderness programs and report few if any problems.

The concept isn't new, but it's the first facility of it's kind in the state. Milke explains, "There's a real void between kids that have a brush with the law or get into some trouble - maybe don't have a great family life. Either you leave them where you're at - or incarcerate them, and there's nothing in between."

The company doesn't have to get approval to build the school in Judice because there aren't any zoning regulations. However, company officials say neighbors can rest assured, their facility will be secure, and they'll be turning out good kids. "75% of these kids that go through AMI programs never have another encounter with the juvenile justice system," Milke says.

Another important factor that should be noted is that treatment for these boys is also a type of preventative measure. The cost for us to help them now while they are young will be much les than the cost to help them if they continue these behaviors into adulthood and we have to support them for long periods of time in our prisons.

The state of Louisiana will pick up the tab for the 36 boys who'll live out here. Company officials say they'll have nearly forty employees. AMI hopes to have the facility up and running by the end of the summer. City-Parish Councilman Lenwood Broussard says he has an agenda item on May 29th, that will allow the community of Judice to come before the city-parish council and address their concern about this institute. Broussard says he has also invited the AMI corporate director and local directors to answer any questions.

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