Juvenile justice reform is failing in Louisiana, according to a new report from the Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), an NJJN member. The organization charges that the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice has not effectively implemented the Juvenile Justice Reform Act (Act 1225), a law FFLIC was instrumental in passing in 2003, and that its attempt to adopt the "Missouri Model" has not worked because it has done so in piecemeal fashion, rather than embracing model wholesale.
The report, A Failing System Reminiscent of Tallulah, outlines key areas in which the state of Louisiana has failed to follow through on its plan to implement the Missouri Model: "lack of real family involvement; lack of high caliber staff involvement; lack of productive youth interaction, placement, and services; lack of therapeutic, safe and consistent settings; and lack of transparency." The report includes recommendations for reform.
"The fate of our children is in the hands of people who continue to treat our children with disregard and their families with disrespect," said Gina Womack, Executive Director of FFLIC. “Our children are being handled according to outdated correctional methods. We need to get a handle on this situation before another child dies behind those razor-wire fences."
In related news, Womack was named a 2011 Alston Bannerman Fellow—a national award presented by the Center for Social Inclusion that honors long-time community activists of color and gives them the opportunity to take sabbaticals.