Keeping Children Out of Orleans Parish Prison

Orleans Parish Prison is no place for children. We won't rest until every child under 18 has been removed from this dangerous facility.

Young people should be held accountable in ways that keep them safe while providing age-appropriate supports. If we detain youth prior to trial, we should hold them in a facility that meets these needs – not at the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), New Orleans’ adult jail.

OPP is no place for children. OPP is under a federal oversight for its unconstitutionally cruel conditions. But at any given moment, children younger than 18 are locked up at the notoriously dangerous prison, awaiting trial. This puts them at high risk of physical abuse, sexual assault, and suicide.

Who are the children at the Orleans Parish Prison?

  • Some are “transfer youth” – youth who were 14, 15, and 16 years old when they were accused of committing an offense. Those youth are being prosecuted as adults, at the District Attorney’s discretion.
  • Some are youth who were 17 years old when they were arrested. 17-year-olds are automatically prosecuted as adults in Louisiana, and will be until Raise the Age Louisiana takes full effect in 2020.

Fortunately, there is an alternative to holding children at OPP. New Orleans operates a juvenile detention center, known as the Youth Study Center (YSC). That is the safe place to hold children – all children – who are detained prior to trial.

In 2014, LCCR launched a campaign to pressure the city of New Orleans to remove all youth from OPP.  Since then, the City Council and the Mayor’s Office have taken steps to move some of the transfer youth out of OPP by setting aside 12 beds at YSC for transfer youth.

In November 2015, LCCR held a rally outside of City Hall that ended with all seven Council members signing a call to remove all children under 18 from OPP.  The mayor responded with a commitment to make space for all of the city’s detained children at the Youth Study Center.

But we need to finish the job. LCCR continues our efforts to hold the city accountable and ensure that no child is ever detained in OPP.

Our work to keep youth out of the criminal justice system would not be possible without the generous support of the Public Welfare Foundation.

Did you know?

21% of victims of sexual violence in adult prisons are children, even though children make up only 1% of the inmate population.

Youth detained in an adult facility are 36 times more likely to commit suicide than youth held in a juvenile facility.