Head of OJJ resigns Friday

Published: Nov. 18, 2022 at 3:46 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 18, 2022 at 4:39 PM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - Amid growing troubles in his agency, the head of Louisiana’s Office of Juvenile Justice unexpectedly resigned Friday, Nov. 18.

William “Bill” Sommers had headed the agency since 2020.

His departure comes as the agency has dealt with multiple escapes from its juvenile incarceration facilities and a recent disclosure that the state could no longer safely accept any additional juvenile inmates due to capacity issues.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards thanked Sommers for his service, saying Sommers joined the administration “during one of the most difficult periods in Louisiana’s history, leading OJJ through the COVID-19 pandemic and devastating natural disasters.”

Edwards named OJJ Assistant Secretary Otha “Curtis” Nelson as interim deputy secretary. Nelson joined the agency earlier this year after serving as deputy judicial administrator for the Louisiana Supreme Court Division of Children and Families. The governor said Nelson has more than 30 years of knowledge and experience working with children and families including as an adolescent mental health technician in mental health settings, a court appointed special advocate, a family attorney for children in need of care and delinquency proceedings, and juvenile prosecutor for the 19th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.

“Curtis has decades of experience helping troubled youth and their families,” said Gov. Edwards. “He understands the issues and challenges facing our juvenile system, and I’m confident in his leadership and ability to help us address the problems within OJJ and make improvements.”

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