Author

Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O'Donoghue

Julie O’Donoghue is a senior reporter for the Louisiana Illuminator. She’s received awards from the Virginia Press Association and Louisiana-Mississippi Associated Press.

A view from below of thick mesh fencing and barbed wire

Louisiana moved incarcerated girls to deal with budget woes, official says

By: - October 5, 2023

Financial stress pushed Louisiana to transfer incarcerated girls out of a controversial detention center in north Louisiana last week. The facility requested hundreds of thousands of dollars from the state it could no longer pay after a federal judge forced the closure of a juvenile justice center on the grounds of Louisiana State Penitentiary at […]

Jetson Center for Youth

Advocates worry about Louisiana’s plans to house incarcerated girls near adult prisoners

By: - October 3, 2023

Louisiana could soon test the boundaries of laws that block the incarceration of children alongside adults — for the second time in 15 months. The state Office of Juvenile Justice plans to move 15 to 20 incarcerated girls to the defunct Jetson Center for Youth in Baker by the end of the year, even though […]

A closeup of a small statue of a blindfolded woman holding scales, representing justice

Louisiana moves incarcerated girls to St. Martinville

By: - September 29, 2023

Louisiana relocated 16 incarcerated girls in state custody Thursday from a controversial north Louisiana detention facility to the Acadiana Center for Youth in St. Martinville, potentially a sign of more turmoil in the troubled juvenile justice system, according to advocates for incarcerated youth. The Illuminator first reported the pending move Wednesday, when state officials withheld […]

LPB Debate

Final debate of the Louisiana governor’s primary takes place today

By: - September 28, 2023

The final debate before Louisiana voters head to the polls in the governor’s election takes place Thursday night. The nonprofit Council for A Better Louisiana and Louisiana Public Broadcasting are sponsoring the event that can be viewed on public television stations across the state from 7 to  8 p.m. It will also be available live […]

"No Trespassing" sign outside Jetson Center for Youth in Baker

Louisiana pulls incarcerated girls out of controversial youth prison

By: - September 27, 2023

Louisiana officials plan to move incarcerated girls held in state custody out of a north Louisiana detention center before Saturday, bringing an abrupt end to an arrangement with the facility that has been in place for 15 years. The Office of Juvenile Justice won’t renew its contract with the controversial Ware Youth Center in Coushatta […]

Damaged homes in Chauvin, Louisiana, after Hurricane Ida

What Louisiana governor candidates want to do about soaring property insurance rates

By: - September 27, 2023

One of the most pressing issues Louisiana faces is skyrocketing property insurance rates, including those for homeowners, businesses and vehicle owners. Insurance providers have pulled out of the state and those that remain are raising premiums after seeing numerous hurricanes hit the Gulf Coast since 2020. Florida and California are also struggling to keep companies […]

Sharon Hewitt standing at podium speaking to reporters

Hewitt, only woman running for governor, criticizes Landry for consultant accused of misconduct

By: - September 25, 2023

State Sen. Sharon Hewitt, the only woman running for Louisiana governor, criticized Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry for hiring a political consultant who struck a plea deal last year to avoid criminal charges for alleged sexual harassment. “It is disappointing that Landry is hiring staff accused of assaulting women,” Hewitt, also a Republican, said in […]

Former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski testifies during a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill

Report: GOP donor demands money back from Landry over campaign consultant accused of harassment

By: - September 25, 2023

John Odom, a major Republican donor from Idaho, wants $100,000 in political contributions back from Attorney General Jeff Landry after discovering Landry had hired a political consultant who allegedly harassed Odom’s ex-wife, according to Politico. Odom told Politico it was “obvious that [Landry] is not the kind of leader that Louisiana needs.” Landry has paid […]

The view from atop an offshore drilling platform shows a derrick, various pipes and a flame atop the derrick from vented gas.

Federal judge says area for oil and gas leases in Gulf of Mexico must be expanded

By: - September 23, 2023

A federal judge has ordered the Biden administration to expand next week’s offshore oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico by 6 million acres. His ruling overturned a federal plan released last month that put limits in place to protect an endangered whale species. U.S. District Judge David Cain in Lake Charles […]

Chenita LeBlanc, a program manager with DePaul Community Health Center, holds a flyer for Louisiana Medicaid members

Please share your Louisiana Medicaid story

By: - September 22, 2023

The Louisiana Illuminator is seeking people affected by the state’s massive Medicaid disenrollment process who are willing to share their experiences. Louisiana removed more than 100,000 people from its Medicaid program during June and July and will continue disenrollment for the next several months. Thousands of children are among those affected. We are looking to […]

Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund expected to fully recover from COVID-19

By: - September 22, 2023

After practically running dry in 2020, Louisiana’s unemployment trust fund is expected to climb back to its pre-COVID-19 pandemic level by August next year, state officials said Thursday. “We’ve actually made it all the way back,” Robert Wooley, head of the Louisiana Workforce Commission, said during a meeting of the state’s revenue estimating panel Thursday.  […]

A closeup photo of the corner of an medical insurance membership card

Louisiana lawmakers want say over Medicaid contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars

By: - September 21, 2023

Louisiana legislators want the state to revisit — or at very least delay —  the award of a Medicaid technology contract worth hundreds of millions of dollars after hearing complaints from one company not selected to do the work.  Republican lawmakers criticized Gov. John Bel Edwards’ administration for excluding Gainwell Technologies from a final round […]