Mission: “To transform the juvenile justice system into one that builds on the strengths of young people, families and communities in order to instill hope and to ensure children are given the greatest opportunities to grow and thrive.”
Alternatives to Incarceration
Putting children in prisons not only harms the child but goes against every core value of the juvenile justice system. Rehabilitation, treatment, accountability, public safety and a belief in the potential of children are all undermined when we rely on juvenile prisons to care for our troubled young people. Apart from being subjected to chaotic violence and the pain of being isolated from their families, confinement fails to make a positive difference in a child’s life; in fact, many youth come out hardened and more likely to re-offend than when they went in. Children’s lives are so disrupted by prison that they find it difficult, if not impossible, to get back on track once they return home. They’ve lost education opportunities, job opportunities, and opportunities for exploration and experimentation that are a natural part of healthy adolescent development. Robbed of their teenage years, youth lose the chance for self-expression and self-growth.
Given prison’s devastating and debilitating impact on childhood, JJPL believes it is essential that Louisiana invest in more and better alternatives to incarceration. Community-based alternative programs keep children connected to their families and loved ones while providing individualized treatment and holding them appropriately accountable for their actions. Because such programs are relatively small and located within communities, interventions can build on existing resources, such as schools, families, mentoring programs, mental health care and so on, to enhance the opportunities for success. JJPL emphasizes the importance of community-based alternatives to incarceration through its public outreach and education efforts and is seeking to coordinate with service providers to increase options for effective alternatives in our communities throughout the state. JJPL also works with Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children in their efforts to advocate for more treatment and less incarceration.