New Orleans

I want my vote back! – New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana 2021-07-27 14:23:40 –

We are sad Dead (number) Of all the lives lost in violence. Prevention of violence and healthy development of children Family and friends of imprisoned children in Louisiana Mission (of FFLIC). We take a system transformation approach to our work with the aim of finding an holistic solution to community violence.As a result, our organization New Orleans District Attorney Jason Williams Decision Try out Young people Once again, it is related to adult violence.

We are angry with Williams’ decision to break his election promise not to try young people as adults. These feelings of anger and disappointment towards policy makers are not new and are not unique to the district attorney. Jason Williams is just one example of all the problems with the system that continue to target the most vulnerable people in our community: blacks and brown youth. As a black mother, this is personal.

This rearward “justice” system perpetuates the cycle of harm and policy makers are not accountable to the community. When a child is punished as an adult, more trauma is incurred and responsibility shifts from the epic failure of the judicial system to the young people in need of the most help. So I want to get my vote back to all the policy makers who helped me win the vote and didn’t do the right thing for the kids!

Since then, my frustration has been going on for nearly 20 years. Law 1225 It was passed in 2003. The promise of the law has not been fulfilled. The law was passed to transform the Louisiana system into a model of overall support for children and to break away from its ineffective and disciplinary approach. But that’s not happening. The negative effects of our system and the failure of policy makers to modify it continue to perpetuate a vicious cycle of intergenerational harm, trauma and violence.

I see this harm going on every day. We live in a society that impedes access to colored opportunities such as education, mental health services, housing and employment. Our criminal legal system is rooted in the history of violence against blacks. The system itself was established to maintain a system of oppression and racism.

To date, we know that in Louisiana, young people of all backgrounds and races are behaving at the same rate, but black young people can be five times more imprisoned than white young people. .. While some children’s mistakes and behavioral violations are dealt with by parents, teachers, and trusted adults with a loving and compassionate approach, black and brown children, especially those in poorer areas, are subject to criminal law. It is subject to the system.

I was a board member of a predominantly white private school and witnessed first-hand how different approaches to helping and punishing children. It made me annoyed to find that what I fight for black children every day is very easy to offer, mostly in the white and wealthy community.

Meanwhile, our children are kicked out of school. He was the target of the criminal law system and was subsequently exposed to further violence. Since the criminal law system is rooted in racism and organized violence, it is not surprising that Louisiana has a long history and pattern of abuse, neglect, sexual assault and violence in youth prisons.There is a recent case report Riot, escape, pepper spray, And even Two suicides At a youth facility.And 2018 Legislative audit The state has shown that it does not comply with federal law aimed at protecting imprisoned youth. Most recently, a well-documented failure of the system has Insufficient care during a pandemic – Isolation, cell confinement, lack of access to education and services, lack of family ties, etc.

There is no way to protect this racist, abusive and ineffective system that is maintained despite failures in youth rehabilitation and community security. Confinement of young people can have very negative consequences on their ability to return to the right trajectory, according to a series of studies that have grown over the years. That is, they are not giving them what they need to be productive members of society. Research has shown that contact with the judicial system, rather than counseling or community oversight programs, increases the likelihood of criminal involvement. Therefore, it is more than frustrating for our systems and policy makers to continue to harm black and brown youth in the guise of “community protection.”

Our government has failed to make real efforts to change this system of racist violence and abuse. Many of our policy makers do exactly what DA Williams did — they promised to do something other than the status quo to make a difference. Instead, they turned around and did the exact opposite. On the other hand, young people of our color are growing in a society where institutional, structural and interpersonal violence against them is normalized and accepted. And they internalize the message that they are disposable.

There are many government failures, starting with the Juvenile Justice Reform Act Implementation Committee (JJRAIC), which failed to implement the 1225 Act Reform. Youth also failed. JJRAIC has never met Until recently. Family and friends of imprisoned children in Louisiana have succeeded in legislative efforts to reconvene the Commission. The state-wide youth planning committee works only in about five jurisdictions. In fact, there is a long list of institutions, committees and boards that are supposed to support our youth, including families in need of service (FINS). Sadly, their consequences are disastrous.

Louisiana ranks 50th for children’s financial well-being and 49th for education. Seventy-three percent of imprisoned children in Louisiana suffer from mental health problems, and prisons are the wrong place to meet their mental health needs.

I continue to be frightened by the treatment of children in Louisiana, especially those of color. I’m simply fed up with this racist and oppressive system and those who continue to perpetuate the cycle of violence and harm committed to young people of our color. If the juvenile justice system continues to perpetuate the myth of the youth of color as a super-predator, we will never end this cycle of harm. We must meet the basic needs of our children and apply solutions that are known to work for privileged communities. We must support all children at the forefront of their development with preventative, nurturing, and restorative practices that enable them to learn from mistakes and grow. ..

In the words of James Baldwin, “… these are all our children. We will all benefit or pay for what they have achieved.”

Gina Womak is the secretary general of the family and friends of imprisoned children in Louisiana. FFLIC is a black, female-led, state-wide, grassroots, multi-generational membership organization. The organization is committed to abolishing all forms of national violence against young black people, especially in New Orleans, through the development and advocacy of transformative, organized and overall leadership.

The Opinion section is a community forum. The expressed views are not necessarily the views of Lens or its staff. Contact opinion editor Amy Stelly ( to suggest ideas for the column.

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