On August 8th, youth justice advocates held a press conference outside of the Angola State Penitentiary in Lousiana in protest of the decision to move juvenile inmates into the facility. Dubbed “the bloodiest prison in the South,” Angola, the largest maximum security prison in the U.S. is notorious for its horrific violence. Since 1992, over 1,300 vicious assaults have occurred at the facility between inmates and staff.
Tuesday’s rally was organized by Families and Friends of Lousiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC), a grassroots organization helping to transform systems that put youth at risk of prison. The youth advocacy group has put pressure on Lousiana Gov. John Bel Edwards to address the ongoing abuse and violence plaguing youth detention centers in Louisiana. The state’s three juvenile detention centers, Bridge City, Monroe, and Bunkie, have all suffered from chaotic violence and severe understaffing. On July 19, residents near New Orleans were sent into sheer panic when six teens from Bridge City escaped from the detention center. According to NOLA, one inmate allegedly stole a vehicle and shot a 59-year-old man during the incident.
More problems ahead
Now, Edwards is set is move about 25 teens to Angola, in an effort to quell the violence. The teens will eventually be transferred to an updated wing of the Jetson Center for Youth in Baker, which is currently in the process of reopening. The facility was closed down for nearly eight years due to safety concerns, according to The Advocate. State officials say the teens will stay near the front of the Angola prison camp until construction at the Jetson is complete, but FFLIC members worry that exposing the young teens to the maximum penitentiary’s harsh conditions will lead to more trauma and trouble for them.
“Youth need safe, healthy environments and support rehabilitative services. Instead, the state continues to ignore the needs of young people and their communities and perpetuates a cycle of harm,” the organization said in a statement on their website. A slew of youth incarceration advocacy groups have joined in on the fight to protect the teens from Angola including the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights and the Power Coalition for Equity and Justice.
During a press conference, Gov. Edwards admitted that his plan was far from “perfect.”
“But I do believe that the situation demands an immediate response and these are the best options we currently have to ensure the safety of the youth, the staff and the community,” he said while reassuring the public that the teens would be safe. “They will not have contact with adult inmates and will continue to receive all of the services they currently receive through OJJ, including education,” he added.
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Youth Justice Advocacy Group Fights To Keep Incarcerated Teens Out Of Louisiana’s Infamous Angola Prison was originally published on newsone.com