In July of this year, we reported that Minors who haven't been convicted yet were being held in the former death row holding cells with conditions that would even be too inhumane for criminals actually on death row. In July of 2022, Governor John Bel Edwards announced a "shocking plan" to move minors to the former death row building at the previously adult-only maximum security Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola Prison.

Annual Angola Prison Rodeo Turns Inmates Into Cowboys
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Update On Juveniles being held at Angola

The Office of Juvenile Justice relocated minors from Angola just a day after an appeals court had voted to halt a federal order making the removal mandatory. The OJJ contacted officials in Jackson Parish who just opened a new juvenile justice facility this year. They are already serving youth in local programs and they can provide temporary housing while the new state-run Swanson secure care facility is completed. the Office of Juvenile Justice officials will be working closely with local officials to make sure that OJJ youth housed here will receive the necessary rehabilitative services and care required by federal laws that were previously neglected at the Angola prison.

OJJ intends to move forward with our appeal of the recent ruling by the U.S. District Court. OJJ continues to disagree with the court’s ruling, which we believe contained several findings about the conditions at the West Feliciana Center for Youth that are at odds with the facts. The West Feliciana Center for Youth was a necessary, but temporary solution to address serious security issues at OJJ facilities across the state that threatened the safety of staff, community members, and youth in our care. The youth who were temporarily housed there received targeted rehabilitative services and care from hardworking OJJ staff, who took extraordinary measures to ensure the facility could successfully serve the youth

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Original Story

There is a new emergency court filing in the ongoing lawsuit against Angola State Penitentiary from the plaintiffs, The American Civil Liberties Union. Minors that haven't been convicted yet are being held in the former death row holding cells with conditions that would even be too inhumane for criminals actually on death row.

In July of 2022, Governor John Bel Edwards announced a "shocking plan" to move minors to the former death row building at the previously adult-only maximum security Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola Prison. The Cheif District Judge Shelly Dick found Edward's plans "disturbing".

The youth being held here have not been convicted of any crimes and this is the first time young people are being detained within an adult prison before even being allowed a trial.

 

The emergency filing is in response to these conditions:

  • Being placed in solitary confinement for 72 consecutive hours when they arrive — only being released from their cells for a few minutes to shower;
  • Being locked in their cells at times for over 23 hours for punishment, only let out to shower in handcuffs and shackles; and
  • Being handcuffed and shackled as punishment when they are occasionally allowed to go outside for recreation time.

It's no secret that this Louisiana summer heat is unbearable, imagine being trapped in the heat for an entire day with no AC for an undetermined amount of time.

To quote Dr. Susi Vassallo, keeping children in these unconstitutional and inadequate conditions is "foolhardy and perilous".  Vassallo, the medical expert for prisoners at Angola, goes on to say she wouldn't even keep her dog in these conditions.

State officials claim they will resolve the issue this fall however critics point out that with the temperature hitting triple digits daily this summer the conditions need to improve immediately or death is a real possibility for those being detained and have yet to have a day in court.

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