The head of Louisiana’s Office of Juvenile Justice resigned Friday, amid a deepening crisis inside the state’s youth detention facilities, including escapes, riots, a controversial relocation and capacity challenges.
Deputy Secretary William “Bill” Sommers has led the agency since 2020. The agency’s assistant secretary, Otha “Curtis” Nelson, Jr., will serve as the interim deputy secretary.
“I am grateful to Bill for his service to our state,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a written statement, in which he announced the resignation. “He joined us during one of the most difficult periods in Louisiana’s history, leading OJJ through the COVID-19 pandemic and devastating natural disasters.”
Sommers’ departure follows months of significant ongoing issues facing juvenile detention centers in the state. Most recently, the agency said in a letter that there was no more room in the state’s juvenile lockups and asked judges to help by releasing some low-risk teen offenders back to their communities, The Advocate reported Wednesday.