Bossier Parish Youth Shelter Closing Permanently
The Bossier Parish Police Jury will no longer fund the Johnny Gray Jones Youth Center November 30, citing rising costs and less use.
The Johnny Gray Jones Youth Shelter is closing its doors. That’s the word from the Bossier Parish Police Jury. The jury’s longtime attorney, Patrick Jackson, says over time Bossier Parish has utilized the youth shelter less and less while paying more. The shelter’s annual budget has swollen to $1.2 million. Then Add in the expenses for maintenance, insurance, and other payments, and it begins to add up quickly. Then consider Bossier Parish pays 80% of the final bill. “It’s costing us somewhere in the neighborhood of a million dollars a year, and with one or two kids a month, it’s just not cost-effective. You know, it’s like having a hospital with a hundred beds and only four beds are being used. You know, you still have to staff for the other 96 beds.”
Beyond the financial considerations, Jackson explains how the use of the facility has undergone a mission creep, or shift, over the years but only to a certain degree. That’s largely because the shelter is not a lock-down facility. Instead, it was meant as a final "wake-up call destination," used for petty crime juveniles and kids on the verge of criminal activity, “But unfortunately, because of the explosion of juvenile crime,” Jackson laments, “the beds we have available for those kids, they’re the ‘toughest of the tough’ These youth are being charged with murder, it’s rape, it’s attempted murder. It’s not small crimes.”
So, as juvenile crime has surged to new heights, the Shelter is simply not designed to become a more secure facility, at least not without considerable and expensive changes at the site.
But there is still a chance, according to Jackson, the shelter could survive, beyond November 30. “Since such time we’ve received several inquiries. We’ve got some meetings coming up this week from different partners that use the facility, with an interest in either taking it over or to subsidize the cost of it. So, we’ll see what those meetings bring.”
As for the kids currently at the shelter, their stays are typically only a few days or weeks before moving on.
I have reached out several times to speak with the current operators, but so far, there is no response.