In response to ongoing criticism over the Mayor’s support of a youth who committed a carjacking, Gina Womack, the Executive Director of Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), issued the following statement:
We at FFLIC do not condone any crime, and we have compassion for all families impacted by violence and crime. This is a critical opportunity for all communities to unite and rally support for more investments in the community based programs and supports that we know work to keep our communities and youth safe. The New Orleans Children and Youth Planning Board has met with youth, heard directly from them on what they need, and developed a Youth Master Plan. We hope that all community members become involved in the plan’s development and implementation.
When we talk about public safety, what’s good for our kids is good for communities. When terrible crimes happen there is trauma on all sides. Families are broken, but nobody wins from locking kids up and throwing away the key. Prison is not a deterrent. Prisons – instead of community-based services – actually increase the chances of youth committing additional crimes. If we don’t come together in community to provide resources for all children – some kids will never reach their potential, and we all lose.
The youth justice system’s purpose is not designed to punish youth, rather to rehabilitate them. From the information we have, this is a rare case in which the system is working to provide the needed supports via the City’s Pathway program. The young person successfully participated in and completed the intensive community-based program and has committed no further offenses. We fully support second chances for our youth and we stand behind the many community-based programs designed to produce successful outcomes, such as the one we see in his case. We must continue to invest in the solutions we know work – prevention, supports, and rehabilitation – instead of wasting time and money on more police, more prisons, and stronger sentencing.