Treated Like Trash: Juvenile Detention in New Orleans Before, During, and After Hurricane Katrina
As Hurricane Katrina approached New Orleans in August 2005, approximately 150 youth were trapped in detention centers in and around the city. The city of New Orleans moved those held at the Youth Study Center to Templeman 5, a unit a Orleans Parish Prison (OPP). The city did not move any of the children already housed at OPP in the South White Detention Center. Thus, all of Orleans Parish's children in detention were inside OPP when Katrina made landfall. These young people left to face the flood waters were evacuated and placed in the custody of the Louisiana Office of Youth Development (OYD). OYD used two juvenile prisons, one near Baton Rouge and the other in Monroe, Louisiana, and other detention centers to house these youth, but not until days after the storm flooded the cells of the Katrina-trapped children. The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, OYD, and the Orleans Parish Juvenile court moved quickly and together to ensure the evacuated children had access to legal representation, to the courts, and to their scattered families. This action resulted in the speedy reunification of nearly 100 youth with their families and the proper disposition of many other cases. This 26-page report follows the journey taken by these children during Katrina. The purposes are (a) to allow the children to tell their stories, (b) to identify the institutional failures that allowed these events to take place, and (c) to begin the discussion on how to reform the city's juvenile justice system.