When the COVID-19 crisis began in New Orleans, there were 45 children locked up in the city’s jail, and hundreds more incarcerated throughout the state–all in settings extremely vulnerable to outbreak. Since that moment, LCCR has been working tirelessly to promote the safety and wellbeing of these children, as well as all of the children in the juvenile and criminal justice systems. We wanted to share this brief update on how, in a pandemic reality, LCCR is continuing to fight for the rights of kids:
Family Needs – This past week we contacted all of our client families to see how they’re adjusting to this crisis. Unsurprisingly, most are really struggling, especially with accessing food and educational services during school closures. Our social workers have compiled a community resource guide to help families during this crisis, updating it daily. We also continue to advocate on an individual basis for our children and families, fighting to ensure that their needs are met during this crisis.
Protecting Incarcerated Children – To stave off a public health emergency in our juvenile jails and prisons, we are calling for a swift and dramatic reduction in the number of children in custody. For youth who will not be released, we demand that state and local facilities take serious precautions to protect their health, safety, and constitutional rights. You can read our letter here.
Juvenile Court Closures – With Orleans Parish Juvenile Court now closed through at least April 13, we are helping families navigate how this affects their children in the justice system — especially families with kids who are detained during this uncertain time. We are insisting that the courts must be available to children who are still being arrested and jailed. As of now, there is no system in place to hold remote hearings for these children.
Our daily work is made doubly challenging now due to our office closure — our entire staff is working remotely — and our visits with clients and families suspended indefinitely. However, even in light of this pandemic, children continue to be arrested and jailed. Therefore, it is ever more critical that our work continues.
Thank you for standing with us during these trying times. Your support is what makes this important work possible. Together, we’ll get through this.