Van helps city, DA with juvenile problem

Published 5:06 am Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Thanks to the generosity of the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center, a new van has been made available for the transportation of local juvenile offenders for their community service duties.

In mid-2015, the center donated a surplus van to the juvenile community service program, which is operated locally through the office of District Attorney Warren Montgomery. Recently, Bogalusa City Prosecutor David Merlin Duke’s office financed the installation of lettering and a light bar on the van for additional safety.

By regulation, the juvenile detention center has a mileage restriction on its vehicles. Once a van reaches that mileage limit, it must be declared surplus and be sold at auction.

However, the center quickly learned that Bogalusa had a need for the van and donated it.

“When we transport kids from the center, it’s usually to the hospital for emergencies and that sort of thing,” said Joseph Dominick, executive director of the Florida Parishes Juvenile Detention Center. “Because the center is rural, our vehicles often have to be out on the road for a long time. We had an older van that wasn’t suited for long trips, but it would work great for shorter distances like what’s needed in Bogalusa.”

Mike Breland, who works as the juvenile diversion and community service office for Montgomery’s D.A. office, said that the vehicle was a godsend.

“We were using a van that was 30 years old and was in bad shape,” he said. “This has really helped us.”

Juvenile offenders in the community service program typically work every Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. including a lunch break. Breland said the young offenders range in age from 12 to 16 years old, and pick up trash throughout the city. They especially focus on the cemeteries and parks.

Duke said that his office wanted to add the van’s lettering and light bar to let motorists know to be careful and slow down around the vehicles, because the youths are likely working nearby.