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After three teenagers escaped from Bridge City Center for Youth this past Sunday, Gina Womack, the Executive Director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), issued the following statement:

“This is yet another instance of youth escaping harmful prisons led by the Office of Juvenile Justice. With more and more young people escaping these facilities at such a high rate, it begs the public to ask if the OJJ is actually properly equipped to provide the services and rehabilitation for the youth in their care.

We are already aware that Bridge City and Swanson Center for Youth in Monroe have a long history of abuse and neglect towards incarcerated youth, and yet people still act shocked when youth escape so frequently.

Louisiana has not done nearly enough to ensure children that are entrusted in their care are safe and healthy. Instead, the state has gone out of its way to ignore the needs of  young people and their communities who need help, perpetuating a cycle of harm..

The Office of Juvenile Justice and Governor Bel Edwards continue to fail youth every day that these nightmarish facilities that lock up youth are allowed to remain open; while wasting much needed funding.

Clearly OJJ is incapable of serving these youth. Louisiana’s young people deserve to be treated with care and dignity, not to have their futures thrown away by the state. At FFLIC, we are proud to stand with system-impacted youth and their families who are too often rendered voiceless by the carceral system.”

Read the article here.