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Advocates Call for Education for Youth in Louisiana's Angola Prison

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Following Louisiana Governor John Bell Edwards’ announcement last month that the Louisiana State Penitentiary complex would temporarily house incarcerated youth, the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights (LCCR), Loyola University, and the Southern Poverty Law Center announced that have raised concerns about being held in prison. Not equipped to meet the educational and rehabilitation needs of children.

In a letter released this week, the organization provided state education and prison officials with details outlining how children held in the prison known as Angola receive general and special education services. State law requires all schools to provide students up to age 19 with at least 360 minutes of instruction per day and 177 days of instruction per year.

“Every child must have their right to an education protected,” said SPLC senior staff attorney Lauren Winkler. “We are deeply concerned that depriving them of this right will only undermine their rehabilitation efforts, create more barriers in their lives and hinder their success and prosperity. I’m here.”

Edwards plans to relocate about 25 children currently housed at the Bridge City Center for Youth to Angola, where new youth facilities will be built or renovated. The move is expected to take place this month. Without a deliberate and coordinated effort among the Juvenile Justice Department, the Department of Corrections, Special School Districts, and the Louisiana Department of Education, advocates believe that young people in Angola’s incarceration are deprived of education and unable to grow and develop. It warns that you may lose other opportunities for rehabilitation.

“The governor’s outrageous decision to move children to Angola not only puts vulnerable children at serious risk of physical harm and trauma, but also undermines their legal right to receive an individualized and supportive education from them. It will also rob the LCCR staff attorney.

Federal law guarantees incarcerated children the right to earn high school credit and the opportunity to earn a diploma. However, as an adult institution, Angola does not have general or special education teachers and does not have the infrastructure to provide high school education to students with diverse needs.

Young people without education are more likely to face recidivism.

Sarah Godshaw, a staff attorney at Loyola University University of New Orleans, said, “Relocating these children to high-security adult prisons that are ill-equipped to provide educational services is critical. It deprives them of their right to general and special education and related services.” law. “For the most vulnerable young people, the loss of these vital rehabilitation services would be detrimental to society as a whole.”

The Juvenile Justice Department and special school districts have a history of failing to prioritize and plan for the educational needs of children in their care. Last year, the LCCR and Loyola University’s Stuart H. Smith Law Clinic & Center for Social Justice identified numerous law violations at the Acadiana Center for Youth in St. Martinville. Children in institutions did not have access to general or special education programs for several months.

“The OJJ has serious concerns about its capacity in Angola because of its repeated failures to provide quality education to young people in custody,” Zimmer said. “Education for the most vulnerable young people cannot be an afterthought, as it is not only their right, but an important component of their rehabilitation.”

Known for its brutality, the Angola prison is named after the slave plantation that once occupied its grounds. In 1880, a former Confederate major who bought the plantation began imprisoning people in the former slave quarters. It is currently the largest maximum security prison in the United States.

Above: Angola Prison (Credit: Patrick Semansky/AP Photo)

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