Report from Louisiana: Juvenile Offenders going to Angola

Posted: September 12, 2022 by Pat Austin in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – Much to the ire of liberals, Louisiana officials are close to finalizing a plan that would move “high-risk” incarcerated teenagers from existing juvenile correctional centers to Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.

The identified teenagers, about twenty-five of them, are “high-risk” due to lack of response to the “open dorm strategy” and will be placed in individual prison cells. This move is partially in response to several recent instances of violence, riots, and escape at several youth facilities. These teens will leave their one-person cells during the daytime to attend class and group counseling.

Critics of the plan speaking with a judge recently are concerned that it will feel “too much like prison” for these offenders and that the adult lifers at Angola will present a problem:

Vincent Schiraldi, a juvenile justice expert the civil rights attorneys hired to testify in court, told the judge he ran into an adult inmate while touring the proposed juvenile justice facility at Angola just last week.

Schiraldi, who oversaw incarcerated youth facilities in Washington, D.C., and managed New York City’s Rikers Island jail, went on to express concern about the facility for incarcerated youth at Angola.

“It’s going to scream ‘prison’ to the young people,” he said in testimony Wednesday.

Incarcerated young people should be kept in housing that looks less like cells and more like dormitories, otherwise they will be at higher risk for self-harm and suicide, Schiraldi said. He also said that recreational facilities at the site are inadequate. There isn’t an indoor gymnasium and the outdoor space doesn’t have a full basketball court or field where young people could realistically play team sports.

Additionally, “Schiraldi also described the kitchen in the Angola facility as ‘disgusting’ and called the visitation area inadequate. During family visits, incarcerated youth wouldn’t be able to touch visitors and would be forced to talk to them through a mesh screen, according to photos Schiraldi showed the court. ‘This is terrible. Kids should be able to be in the same room with their parents,’ he said.”

According to The Advocate, “Some worry that putting the youth on the grounds of the infamous prison, the nation’s biggest penitentiary and a former slave plantation, sends a message that they are beyond redemption. The soft-hearted fret because “these children…made a mistake.” Schiraldi laments that “the facility’s open showers…poses a humiliating environment for youth the clean themselves in.”

Again, remember, high-risk offenders. Not “just a mistake.” The prison setting is exactly what juvenile justice officials want for these offenders. These are offenders who are identified as “high-risk,” not your petty theft shoplifters.  Officials believe that the single-person cells are necessary for the innates privacy and security.

Color me unsympathetic to the lamentations of the liberal bleeding hearts on this one. In spring 2022, three juveniles escaped from Ware Youth Center with the help of a trustee. They were being held on murder and armed robbery charges. This summer several inmates escaped from a suburban New Orleans youth detention center after a riot. It was the fourth incident of escape this year.

Clearly the system is broken, on many levels.

  1. Pod Hamp says:

    It’s a fine line the justice system has to walk between “overdoing” it and “underdoing” it. I don’t claim to be an expert on Louisiana’s or anybody else’s juvenile justice system. But it is clear that as juvenile crime and adult crime increase, the public’s sympathy for juvenile offenders will decrease. This sounds like an example of that.

    Thanks for your post.

  2. BLSinSC says:

    WOW – maybe it will scare SOME of them to NOT want to be IN PRISON!