City to Break Ground on New Juvenile Justice Center!!

Eight years after Hurricane Katrina trashed the City of New Orleans, a new juvenile justice complex is being built in the City That Care Forgot.  Three years ago, the busted up, debilitated Youth Study Center (YSC) picked up their own federal consent decree, just like Parish Prison and NOPD have.  This occurred after the Juvenile Justice Project (JJP) alleged unconstitutional conditions at the location.  In 2007, the JJP filed a class-action against New Orleans and the Orleans Parish School Board, the agency responsible for educating the youths detained at the center.

Youth Study Center, New Orleans

Youth Study Center, New Orleans

Dana Kaplan, one of my personal heroes, gives the YSC and the city credit for making some real progress with the crappy structure they have since the consent decree was filed.

The decree listed all the imperfections with the YSC needing to be fixed, including food, medical services, staffing, use of shackles on prisoners, building safety, among other issues.

A new detention center, plus court facilities and offices for public defenders are all included in the new construction, which represents one of the biggest capital expenditures in the last year. The new complex is expected to be finished by spring 2014. I’m very encouraged and excited by this development! The new buildings are being built with FEMA funds, disaster community development grants, and law enforcement district bond funds.  The city has done a great job of cobbling together funds from disparate sources to get an important and big job done.

The new facility will be built on 6.2 acres that formerly was a public housing development. The Housing Authority of New Orleans donated the land to the city in August 2011, after the agency found out it was once used as landfill and would require a small fortune in cleanup costs before other housing could be build there.

Something doesn’t smell right here- they can’t build housing on this land, but we can house troubled youths there? There is definitely something terribly wrong with allowing the new juvenile justice complex to be built on land that the Housing Authority will not use.

I’m extremely disappointed with the choice of land. We all know what happens to the poor folks who live over or close to heavily polluted land. They contract all kinds of terrible diseases within a few years of living there. Lots of juveniles get locked up for five years or so, making them perfect candidates to get sick.

What about the staff, guards, public defenders, court employees and judges? They will spend a lot of time in the complex. It might take a little longer, but they too will contract their fair share of illness brought on by working over a former dump.

~ by neworleansmusicman on February 19, 2013.

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