Juvenile Detention Centers Face One Scandal After Another

Juvenile Detention Centers Face One Scandal After Another

This is The Marshall Project’s Closing Argument e-newsletter, a weekly deep dive right into a key felony justice situation. Want this delivered to your inbox? Subscribe to future newsletters here.

A call to take away minors from a infamous grownup maximum-security jail in Louisiana highlights the disaster in one of many harshest juvenile justice techniques within the nation.

Up till final week, state officers had been beneath a federal judge’s order to move youth housed in a former death-row wing within the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. The state appealed, and a U.S. Court of Appeals agreed to halt the removal on Sept. 13.

Two days later, beneath public stress, the ACLU says state officials removed the youth anyway.

The court docket rulings had been the newest growth in an ongoing authorized struggle over the state’s resolution to quickly home youth — roughly 80 of them since final fall — at a facility as soon as nicknamed “the bloodiest prison in the South.”

Ordinarily, the teenagers can be at a youth detention heart. But Louisiana officers despatched them to Angola following repeated violence and escapes from two separate juvenile detention facilities final summer season.

My colleague Beth Schwartzapfel beforehand detailed the conditions in a type of youth lockups, discovering that teenagers had been shackled, held in solitary confinement for greater than 23 hours a day, and obtained dismal instructional providers.

State officers have pledged to shift to a extra therapeutic method in youth detention facilities, however they’ve additionally mentioned that extreme employees shortages and funds limitations set by lawmakers make change troublesome.

More than a 12 months after younger individuals had been moved to Angola, state officers mentioned they deliberate to increase placement there till this winter. But in a scathing ruling reported by, Chief U.S. District Judge Shelly Dick discovered that situations at Angola violate the teenagers’ constitutional rights to due course of and freedom from merciless and strange punishment.

During a website go to, Dick reportedly witnessed minors handcuffed whereas enjoying playing cards and consuming meals. She additionally discovered officers weren’t offering correct medical care, and that guards had been withholding household visits.

“Virtually each promise that was made was damaged,” Dick mentioned from the bench, referring to the state’s previous assurances that the teenagers can be secure and have entry to rehabilitation providers on the jail.

The issues aren’t distinctive to Louisiana. Last 12 months, my colleague Jamiles Lartey wrote concerning the harsh situations in Baltimore, Illinois, and Texas. In all three states, younger individuals had been held of their cells for a lot of the day.

A 12 months later, it’s the identical tune, simply in new places.

In Kentucky, the ACLU has requested a U.S. Department of Justice investigation right into a detention heart the place youth are allegedly held in lockdown “for twenty-four hours a day with out meals, psychological well being remedy, training, or entry to non secular providers.”

Staff in juvenile detention facilities throughout Arkansas are facing allegations that embrace sexual abuse and improperly isolating youth. “Many courts are livid, dad and mom are offended and hopeless, and a variety of youngsters have given up. To be trustworthy with you, I don’t blame them,” Arkansas’ Juvenile Ombudsman Brooke Digby wrote in a letter to the non-public firm that oversees the state’s juvenile services.

In Georgia, a number of Department of Juvenile Justice staff had been not too long ago indicted in reference to a 16-year-old woman’s demise, the Dalton Daily Citizen reports. They are accused of kid cruelty and depriving {the teenager} of essential medical care.

As a reporter protecting juvenile justice, I see tales like these virtually each month. While they could appear countless, there have additionally been important makes an attempt to reform the techniques in a number of states.

As a consequence, the variety of youth detained is the lowest in a decade, in accordance with information from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. And youth arrests for violent crimes are also down.

These efforts are propelled by the rising understanding amongst consultants that younger individuals’s minds are nonetheless creating, and with the correct care and remedy, their threat of recidivism could be drastically decreased.

Officials have regarded to the “Missouri model” as one strategy to basically shift find out how to deal with so-called unhealthy youngsters. Missouri’s personal reckoning came after a host of constitutional issues had been raised about the way it handled the younger individuals in its authorized system 4 many years in the past. Officials constructed a brand new cultural mindset to care for teenagers — one centered on a trauma-informed method, as a substitute of a punitive one.

Mark Stewart, who as soon as ran Missouri’s youth system and now directs the Missouri Youth Services Institute, argued last year that Louisiana should give the model a try. “It gives a extra holistic method that features construction, help, understanding and empathy in a humane and caring surroundings,” Stewart wrote.

But because the St. Louis Dispatch reported this summer, the Missouri mannequin itself could also be in danger because of staffing shortages and different challenges intensified by the pandemic — together with reviews of violence and a rise in escapes.



Express your views here

Disqus Shortname not set. Please check settings

What do you think?

100 Points
Upvote Downvote

Written by Admin

Château des Fleurs, Steps From Champs Élysées And Inspired By Art Nouveau

Château des Fleurs, Steps From Champs Élysées And Inspired By Art Nouveau

Pioneering Bangladeshi Climate Scientist Saleemul Huq Dies at 71

Pioneering Bangladeshi Climate Scientist Saleemul Huq Dies at 71