The Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana are joining forces for Louisiana’s children. Learn more.

 

Press Kit

Highlights of JJPL’s Work
JJPL litigates on behalf of youth both locally and statewide. Additionally, we educate policy makers on the need for reform, coordinate with parents, youth and other concerned citizens to ensure their visibility and participation in the process, and actively implement media strategies to hold the state accountable for the treatment of its youth. By coordinating our diverse abilities in strategic campaigns to engage policy makers and organize community members and youth, JJPL continues to work on improving the lives of Louisiana’s most vulnerable children. In the past thirteen years of our existence, we have accomplished the following:

  • Driven all private, for-profit juvenile prison providers from the state (2000)1;
  • Forced the state to close two juvenile prisons (2000 and 2004)[1];
  • Brought litigation challenging conditions in Louisiana’s juvenile prisons and, with the DOJ, negotiated a settlement agreement with the State that dramatically improved many aspects of the conditions of confinement for Louisiana’s youth (1999-2000);
  • As part of the settlement agreement, the State agreed for the first time to fund juvenile indigent defense, appropriating over $1.5 million over a four year period to pay for lawyers to represent delinquent children on appeal and post-disposition challenges to their placement (2000);
  • Brought litigation establishing the foundation for a state constitutional right to treatment for incarcerated children; In Re: C.B., 708 So. 2d391 (La. 1998);
  • Alongside Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) and a broad coalition of individuals and organizations, including juvenile judges, churches, service providers, and other advocates to wage a successful campaign to pass Act 1225 – the Juvenile Justice Reform Act of 2003 – legislation committing Louisiana to reducing its reliance on secure care and increasing alternatives to incarceration close to children’s homes (2003);
  • Fostered The Youth Empowerment Project (YEP), a case management and aftercare organization that provides re-entry services, mentoring, intensive case management and educational programming to at-risk and court involved youth in the Greater New Orleans area (2004);
  • During the devastating weeks immediately after Katrina, JJPL was contacted by state officials for help finding families of over 150 young people held in Orleans parish detention centers and evacuated to safety in the state system as Katrina’s floodwaters started to cover the city. We quickly had hearings set in a makeshift juvenile court, traveled all over the state interviewing the detained youth, located and communicated with families, and represented the youth in successful release hearings (2005);
  • Helped launch Safe Streets/Strong Communities (Safe Streets), which created media pressure that led to the total reform of the Orleans indigent defender system, leading to full-time competent attorneys for the first time. In addition, Safe Streets secured a New Orleans City Council resolution for an Office of the Independent Monitor to oversee the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) (2005);
  • Published Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During and After Hurricane Katrina, an account of the botched evacuation of young people from the Orleans Parish Prison during Katrina and its aftermath. The report led to an immediate promise by the sheriff to never again house juveniles, removing approximately 60 beds from the city’s overall capacity (2006);
  • Launched Juvenile Regional Services (JRS), a model juvenile public defender office that signed a contract with OIDB to provide legal representation to youth accused of delinquent acts in Orleans Parish (2007);
  • Partnered with FFLIC to secure passage of Act 555, to strengthen the Juvenile Justice Implementation Commission and to reduce the population of the Jetson Center for Youth by more than half, with a portion of the savings from the reduction following the children towards alternative community based programs (2008);
  • Launched the youth organizing project Young Adults Striving for Success (YASS), with a core of twenty youth, primarily those with histories of involvement in the juvenile justice system, who meet weekly to develop their leadership skills and to participate in campaigns for juvenile justice reform (2008);
  • Brought litigation against the City of New Orleans, in Co-counsel with international law firm Holland & Knight LLP, on inhumane conditions of confinement in the local youth jail, the inappropriately named Youth Study Center (YSC), that ultimately resulted in a settlement agreement between JJPL, the City of New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board to fundamentally improve conditions at the center, including increasing school-time, mental health services, medical staff, and a reduction in the use of force by staff (2007-2010);
  • Published “Locked Up & Out,” which shares the experiences of LGBT youth in Louisiana’s juvenile justice system, particularly in long-term confinement. The report provides recommendations for Louisiana’s juvenile justice system, including trainings and policy reform (2010);
  • Helped coordinate a coalition of criminal justice reform and good government organizations in New Orleans that secured unanimous passage by the New Orleans City Council of an ordinance to reduce the size of Orleans Parish Prison, New Orleans’ detention center, from 7,500 beds pre-Katrina to a recommended capacity of 1,438 (2011);
  • Ensured the implementation of the US Supreme Court decision Graham v. Florida and Miller v. Alabama to end mandatory life without parole for juveniles and assisted  individuals with their re-entry after securing their release (2011 – present);
  • Mandated the development of juvenile detention center standards statewide based on best practices, implemented in 2013.
  1. In May of 2000, JJPL and the DOJ forced the closure of Wackenhut Corporation’s 275-bed Jena Juvenile Justice Center. The Tallulah prison, which at one time housed 616 youth and had the capacity to house 700, closed its doors to all youth on June 2, 2004. []

Press Kit