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In response to a federal court decision ordering Louisiana officials to stop housing children in the former death row unit of Louisiana State Penitentiary, known as Angola, Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) issued the following statement from Youth Organizing Manager, Antonio Travis:

“We are relieved the judge decided to release children from Angola. This decision is long overdue and it’s shameful that it has taken a lawsuit and federal intervention to try to make the Governor and OJJ do the right thing for our kids. This is exactly why our state ranks 49th in overall child well-being, and we recognize the absurdity of having to seek legal remedy in the first place.

Yet, there is no win here, as youth in prisons all across the state still remain in facilities that clearly cannot give them the support they desperately need. Let’s be clear: these plans were never about providing solutions to OJJ’s systemic failures or the well-being of the youth in their care. If the state had truly cared about rehabilitating its most vulnerable children, elected officials would have enacted the holistic model of care passed into law decades ago in Act 1225 of 2003.

Our ineffective over-reliance on youth prisons has proven time and again that punitive measures don’t work and don’t foster rehabilitation. We must recommit to an approach that invests in community based-alternatives, including mental health and mentorship programs, to provide youth with opportunities and a future outside of prison walls. Today’s ruling is a step in the right direction, but it isn’t actually progress; it’s simply regaining what we lost last year when the Governor decided to send kids to Angola. There is much more work to be done in order to truly reform this broken system.”