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To: Governor John Bel Edwards

KIDS DON'T BELONG IN AMERICA'S WORST PRISON!

Last year, the Governor began moving youth who are the most in need of support and services to a former death row unit in an adult prison and former plantation for enslaved Africans: Angola. Advocates and youth justice experts predicted the trauma and harm that would come from housing youth at one of the nation's most inhumane facilities. It’s been devastating to see those predictions come true. We now know children in the prison have been subjected to:
- Extreme heat in cells with no windows or air conditioning.
- Solitary confinement for 72 hours upon arrival.
- Handcuffs and shackles while showering.
- No schooling or needed mental health services.

That's why advocates have come together to demand an end to this nightmare scenario. Our leaders must shut down Angola and instead recommit to its promise to transform the youth justice system into a holistic model of care and support!

We urge you to join our fight for children’s rights by signing this petition demanding that Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards:

· Immediately release all children from Angola State Prison. 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.

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.
Louisiana, USA

Maps © Stamen; Data © OSM and contributors, ODbL

Updates

2023-11-03 11:32:12 -0700

In September, a federal judge ordered the release of children from Angola. But the fight hasn't ended there as we hoped. OJJ’s appeal of the judge's decision is still pending—even though on September 15th they also removed kids from Angola

We want to be able to close out this horrific chapter so that our families can begin to heal from what will be decades of trauma and harm on top of what already has existed in our state and national history, but unfortunately we can't with confidence (and while litigation is still pending) close out this petition until we know for certain that kids will not be sent back to Angola.

Moreover, we continue to be deeply concerned for youth in the system and disturbed by the ways in which the Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) perpetuates a vicious cycle of harm on our most vulnerable youth and families. OJJ has been shuffling youth in and out of different facilities. The pattern goes on and on– moving kids from one disastrous situation to another.

2023-07-31 14:27:36 -0700

This issue recently received news coverage across the United States after court documents revealed that children at Angola have been subjected to:
Extreme heat in cells with no windows or AC.
Solitary confinement for 72 hours upon arrival.
Handcuffs and shackles while showering.
No schooling or needed mental health services.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2023/07/20/louisiana-prison-conditions-juveniles-lawsuit-aclu/

2022-08-15 20:32:28 -0700

1,000 signatures reached

2022-07-27 17:13:09 -0700

500 signatures reached

2022-07-25 18:47:30 -0700

100 signatures reached

2022-07-25 09:42:38 -0700

50 signatures reached

2022-07-24 16:28:46 -0700

25 signatures reached

2022-07-24 08:01:47 -0700

10 signatures reached