The transfer of youth to an adult facility during Hurricane Ida in August of 2021 provides a case study of how systems in Louisiana—including our public welfare and assistance, education, and justice systems—continue to fail to protect children and serve families with the most needs. Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) offers 5 key solutions:
1. FULLY IMPLEMENT ACT 1225
A full implementation of Act 1225 would provide community-based supports to prevent youth criminal involvement and provide rehabilitation.
2. JJRAIC REVIEW
State and local entities must look to the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Commission for guidance and review.
3. PROPER ACCOUNTABILITY
We must ensure that the proper accountability mechanisms are in place to oversee services and care for youth.
Louisiana must make access to quality education a greater priority.
5. DOWNSIZE PRISONS
The Office of Juvenile Justice must continue to downsize by closing youth prisons.
In 2003 our legislature took a major step forward in passing Act 1225 to transform our youth justice system from an abusive, violent, and ineffective system into a holistic model of support that would prevent crime and provide rehabilitation. This law is a blueprint for a youth justice system that is based on best practices and research. But our lawmakers have never fully committed to its implementation and as a result, we continue to continue to experience youth justice disasters.
We are calling upon policymakers and systems leaders to prevent further and continuing harm, by fully implementing Act 1225 and the infrastructures, policies, and principles, of the Act, including its recommendations for coordination of services. The implementation of this bill is long overdue. We must stop investing in an ineffective and harmful incarceration system and begin to invest in the community-based services and supports we know work to improve outcomes for youth and our communities.
Based on our 5 key solutions as a foundation, FFLIC is making the following additional demands for immediate changes:
Ensure that the Governor’s agenda includes functioning CYPBs as a priority to improve outcomes for youth and families, and ensure full funding and resourcing of the CYPBs
A citizens accountability task force that is representative of the people and communities most impacted by youth incarceration
A coordinated system of care to provide families with basic support and protect children instead of punish them
An investment in community-based services to prevent criminal involvement and provide adequate rehabilitation and restorative justice supports
The release of youth from incarceration and closure of youth prisons
Transitional support that includes access to housing, health care, and food
A shift in the way our state and society views, comments on, and approaches crime among our youth, especially in policy and media
The removal of school resource officers from schools
Increase in school funding to provide counselors, peace builders, and positive behavior interventions and support and discipline
Cessation of any and all policies, practices, tactics, tools, or activities that intentionally or unintentionally seek to disproportionately marginalize, contain, control, and terrorize youth