LCCR’s fiscal year came to a close on June 30. Here’s a glimpse at what your support helped accomplish.
We’re on the front lines every day, protecting the rights of young people impacted by the justice system:
Standing With Kids. LCCR attorneys defended the rights of more than 600 children in Orleans Parish courtrooms this past year. Meanwhile, our social workers and youth advocates connected our kids with the resources they need to grow up healthy and leave the justice system behind for good. Support from people like you helped:
111 children enroll in school
114 children connect with jobs or job training programs
34 children secure new or improved special education supports (IEPs)
40 children defend their right to an education in school expulsion hearings
8 children connect with mentoring programs
85 children access care for mental health and substance use disorder
Collectively, our efforts are helping kids like Corey stay at home with family, remain in school without disruption, and see their prospects for success grow.
We’ve Expanded – By a Lot! For years, LCCR and its predecessor, the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, have fought to end the practice of sentencing children to die in prison. We have changed state law, litigated in court, and trained attorneys – all to ensure that every child has the opportunity for a second chance.
Now, thanks to an unprecedented contract with the Louisiana Public Defender Board, LCCR is representing the majority of children facing life without parole sentences in Louisiana. To do this, we’ve added ten new attorneys and mitigation specialists to our team, led by veteran attorney Carol Kolinchak. Our goal is to ensure that every child has an opportunity for redemption – just like our client Christi, who was granted parole this February after 25 years behind bars. Welcome home, Christi!
Invest in Kids, Not Cages. This spring, the New Orleans District Attorney whipped up a media fervor by erroneously claiming that juvenile crime had reached “epidemic” levels. In response, the NOPD and the Mayor’s Office announced the strict enforcement of juvenile curfews, while juvenile judges implemented a policy to detain more children. To deal with the increased population at the juvenile detention center, the city also moved several children to the adult jail, a facility so dangerous that it’s under a federal consent decree.
To counter these harmful and reactive policies, LCCR and our community partners staged a rally at City Hall, presented before the City Council, and promoted accurate data in the media. Together, we continue to call on city leaders to invest in supporting our youth, not in locking them up.
We’re transforming the juvenile justice system both locally and statewide:
A Win for Solan. This past spring, LCCR helped win passage of Solan’s Law (H.B. 158) to protect children from the dangers of incarceration by keeping them out of juvenile jail in the first place. The law is named after 13-year-old Solan Peterson, who tragically took his own life in February after being jailed for a harmless teenage prank. The new law requires every jurisdiction throughout the state to evaluate a child’s risk level when deciding whether to jail them after an arrest. As a result, fewer children should end up needlessly incarcerated and traumatized.
Raising the Age in Louisiana. Three years ago, LCCR and the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition successfully advocated to include 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system, rather than automatically prosecute them as adults. In March, the first phase of the Raise the Age Act went into effect: all 17-year-olds arrested on non-violent charges are now treated as children in the justice system. Implementation has been largely seamless, much to the benefit of children who are far better served by a juvenile system that’s focused on rehabilitation. Phase two, which will incorporate all 17-year-olds into the juvenile system, is set to take effect in July 2020. LCCR’s advocates continue to work with jurisdictions throughout the state to ensure its smooth and timely implementation.
PAY is Paying Off. In 2017, the New Orleans City Council passed the Policing Alternatives for Youth ordinance (PAY), a citywide effort to reduce the needless arrest of children for minor misbehavior. Rather than arrest and transport every child to booking, police officers can now issue a warning or summons for certain low-level offenses. By keeping low-risk children out of the justice system, and allowing police officers to spend more time on serious crime, the new policy is designed to improve both public safety and children’s lives. It’s also meant to address the fact that over 95% of the children arrested in New Orleans are black. While it won’t eliminate this racial disparity, the PAY ordinance is an important step toward ensuring that black children in New Orleans are treated in the same age-appropriate ways that white children are. Since September 2018, PAY has resulted in the issuance of 291 warnings and 24 summonses, shielding these children from deeper exposure to the justice system.
It’s been another HUGE year for Louisiana’s kids, and your support made it all possible. Thank you!
LCCR’s FY 2019 Financials