Katy Reckdahl

Katy Reckdahl is a news reporter for the New Orleans alternative weekly Gambit. She has been writing about Louisiana's juvenile-justice system since 2001.

Recent Articles

Bayou Betterment

The former correctional officer mops sweat off his brow as he plays two-on-one basketball against kids he would have once called offenders. Michael Gaines gestures toward the man who's trying to block a layup by one of the kids. "In the old days, he would have just stood here in his uniform and watched while the kids played ball with each other," says Gaines. In those "old days" -- about six months ago -- Gaines was a deputy warden, overseeing a staff of lieutenants, captains, and officers. Today he's called deputy director, and his staffers, called youth-care workers, are newly trained at managing adolescent behavior. Their charges are the 70 delinquent children, ages 13 to 20, who reside at the crown jewel of Louisiana's juvenile-justice-reform program, the Bridge City Center for Youth. Gaines and his boss, director (and former warden) John Anderson, point out signs of reform as they walk among the mossy live oaks that create a canopy over the yards of this onetime Catholic...