Progress Continues on New Louisiana Juvenile Justice Building

By CN Staff

LAKE CHARLES, La.—The in-progress Calcasieu Parish Office of Juvenile Justice Services (CPOJJS) building in Lake Charles, previously slowed by weather elements, is now on track for an early 2021 debut.

The 57,000-square-foot venue will not only house 38 juvenile offenders in five pods — it will be home to Juvenile Services for the parish, including offices for probation, drug court offices, social services/truancy, mental health and assessment services.

The project’s general contractor is Trahan Construction and the design was handled by Grace Hebert Curtis Architects (GHC). Among some of the key design elements are a centralized courtyard and control room that allowed for the large structure itself to serve as a detainment rather than constructing highly visible fencing around the entire property. This approach not only plays down the detention feel of the venue, but also allows for a more-holistic approach to security and supervision.

The facility’s central courtyard creates a campus environment while providing an abundance of natural light. To maximize efficiency, the buildings themselves serve as the secure perimeter in lieu of fencing. The offender areas include a large contact visitation, half court gym, kitchen, medical suite, and learning center consisting of classrooms and multi-activity areas. In addition, the youth intake area includes three Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument (MAYSI) rooms, large intake desks, and ample property storage.

The design allows officials to instantly see if any youth residents are in a place where they shouldn’t be. The large windows also provide another signature touch of the architectural firm—an abundance of natural light.

A major design effort was also made to soften the facility, perhaps the residential area most substantially, aiming to create an atmosphere more amenable to rehabilitation than mere confinement.

“This program-focused design blurs the lines between staff, family and kids for a more therapeutic environment,” said Alexander Deshotels, one of the lead designers on the project and a principal with GHC.