Following multiple reports of violence against youth held in Angola, including guards hitting and macing incarcerated young people, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) Executive Director Gina Womack issued the following statement:
“We are saddened that advocates’ predictions have come true and even sadder that the Governor and our state leaders did not heed our warnings. The fact that Black children are being locked in cages on a former plantation for enslaved Africans is already an immeasurable offense, but to also learn that they are being held in solitary confinement without necessary services, education, or even recreation, is unconscionable. No child should ever be subjected to this kind of blatant racism and abuse.
We have said time and time again that nothing good can come from housing youth in Angola, but the Governor and the Office of Juvenile Justice have been determined to ignore what’s right and follow a path of harm and destruction instead. Not even a lawsuit brought by the children highlighting the costs to them and the state could deter them. Under their leadership, Louisiana has become even more of a shame to our nation – and this abuse has only added to our reputation as a failure in education and child wellbeing.
We cannot stress enough the need to recommit to a complete transformation of our youth justice system. Prisons are harmful to our youth and to our communities. We need to downsize the youth prison population and close prisons by investing in prevention and rehabilitation. We must create equitable and life-affirming systems of support so that our youth and communities can thrive.”