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Following reports of Jefferson Parish police physically restraining a 10-year-old, diagnosed with with ADHD and ODD, in a chokehold and handcuffs, Gina Womack, Director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, issued the following statement: 

The actions taken by Jefferson Parish police are nothing less than appalling as there is no excuse for the abuse used to physically restrain a child. A young boy demonstrating behavioral frustration is not a crime, nor does it constitute calling the police. This is a prime example of how youth incarceration is a public health crisis and should be met with a public health approach rooted in healing and care rather than punitive measures that have proven to be counterproductive time and time again. 

“Louisiana’s youth justice system desperately needs a complete overhaul that implements a holistic model of care. The presence of law enforcement in schools is not only unnecessary, but engineers an unwarranted environment of hostility among students and teachers. Addressing the role our country’s school-to-prison pipeline plays in putting children behind bars is imperative to understanding how we can stop the endless cycle of youth incarceration. We must stop treating kids as if they were smaller adults and start treating them as they are – children.