1,000 signatures reached
To: Governor John Bel Edwards
STOP LOUISIANA GOVERNOR’S WAR ON CHILDREN!
Following news of the Governor’s plan to move youth from Bridge City Youth Correctional Center to Angola State Prison for adults, Gina Womack, the Executive Director of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), issued the following statement:
“The Governor's plan to house youth at Angola State Prison is cruel and outrageous. Angola is an adult facility built on former slave quarters that is historically known for horrific violence, abuse, and sexual assaults caused by institutional and systemic violence. To house children at this facility and under the same harsh and violent conditions as adults demonstrates the Governor’s lack of understanding of developmentally-appropriate rehabilitation and commitment to dismantling systems of racism and oppression in Louisiana.
This move signals that Governor John Bel Edwards and the State of Louisiana have little regard for the dignity and care of our incarcerated youth. Our leaders have not done nearly enough to ensure children, especially Black and brown children, entrusted in their care are safe, healthy, and getting the rehabilitative services they need. Instead, the state continues to ignore the needs of young people and their communities and perpetuate a cycle of harm.
We urge you to join our fight for children’s rights by signing this petition demanding that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards:
· Immediately halt any plans to send youth to adult prisons, specifically Angola State Prison and Jetson Correctional Center. Housing youth in the same facilities as adult inmates is in violation of children’s human rights and safety.
· Investigate the Office of Juvenile Justice’s failures to keep children safe in their custody.
· Call a special meeting of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission (JJRAIC) to review alternative options and hear from youth justice experts.
· Place a moratorium on OJJ expenditures for the building or renovation of new, existing, or repurposed facilities and immediately downsize prison populations by initiating the removal of youth, especially those held for non-violent offenses.
· Commit to bringing in national experts provided by the JJRAIC Chair and Vice Chair to help assess our needs and develop an appropriate plan of action.
· Invest in and ensure access to education and holistic rehabilitative services for children rather than increasingly harsh punitive measures that escalate state violence against youth.
· Recommit to the evidence-based models that support youth rehabilitation, education, and wellbeing such as the Missouri Model.
· Commit to banning authorized use of force including pepper spray and tasers.
· Ban the use of solitary confinement for children.
Why is this important?
What is most heartbreaking is that our youth are the ones bearing the burden and the blame of the state’s failures to implement the solution we know works: a holistic model of care that is focused on prevention and rehabilitation. While the state continues to dump money into a failing and abusive system, these youth are enduring inhumane and violent conditions that trigger and aggravate their trauma.
Punitive approaches that expose youth to additional violence and abuse are proven to be ineffective and harmful. Each day that our youth are held in these nightmarish conditions is not only a waste of money, but a step backward in the fight for racial justice, and it does not lead to public safety. To move us in the right direction, the Governor has to recommit to transforming the youth justice system into a coordinated system of prevention, support, and rehabilitation.”
FFLIC believes that all children deserve:
· Developmentally-appropriate interventions and supportive services in their home communities not behind bars.
· The right to a quality education and mental health services.
· The right to learn from youthful mistakes and receive supports that foster their development into healthy and productive adults.
· A holistic continuum of care in their home communities, not cages and bars.