From our friends at Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana:
As the Hurricane Katrina anniversary approaches, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana is re-releasing Treated Like Trash, a 2006 report that detailed the stories of youth detained during the botched evacuations of the Youth Study Center and the Orleans Parish Prison. The original report included stories including teenagers so hungry after days without food that they ate what floated by in the water, skin peeling from sunburn, and a mother who did not know where her son was for weeks. Its release led to a commitment by the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff to never again hold youth in the juvenile justice system at OPP.
The updated report, which details the five-year community campaign that followed the tragedy, is known as Trash to Triumph, and celebrates the major steps that have been taken to improve conditions at YSC. While the City still has much more to do to meet expectations, Thursday morning’s press conference focused on the sense of hope many feel at this moment given the dedication of the new administration to youth in the city, as well as the progress that has been made in this arena to date.
“Although the work is far from over, the anniversary gives us the chance to recognize those who have improved the lives of youth in New Orleans,” said Dana Kaplan, Director of JJPL. “Community organizations, citizens groups, families and friends of the youth, and the youth themselves have led a successful movement for a reformed juvenile justice system, persevering in the face of adversity. The new Administration of the City has joined with us in pledging a commitment to further reform. While there is much work left to be done, we are extremely hopeful that, five years after the storm exposed the problems endemic to our justice system, we can finally work together for real change and real public safety.”
Councilmember Susan Guidry, whose district includes YSC, and Seung Hong, the Interim Director of the city’s Human Services Department, will be present to express their commitment to reform. Further recommendations from advocates include completing construction on a new best practice facility within the next two years and fully implementing mandated reforms to staffing, health services, education, and policies and procedures that resulted from the settlement of the federal lawsuit JJPL filed against the City of New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board in 2007.
The full report is available online at http://jjpl.org/new/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/TRASH-TO-TRIUMPH-REDUCED.pdf.
Photo above by Abdul Aziz.