The Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana filed a class action lawsuit yesterday against the New Orleans Youth Study Center, alleging institutional indifference, poorly trained staff, “grossly unsanitary” conditions and frequent use of solitary confinement, among other charges. From the New Orleans Times-Picayune:
Friday’s lawsuit capped a week of bad news for the Youth Study Center, where most of the city’s serious juvenile offenders are held. On Dec. 14, six detainees, most with serious rap sheets, escaped; three are still at large. On Monday, juvenile judges met with city officials — including Chief Administrative Officer Brenda Hatfield and Department of Human Services director Richard Winder, who oversees the building and its staff — and told them that they had 30 days to improve the facility before judges transferred all youths there to another facility or find a third party to manage it.
On Thursday, five Youth Study Center staff members and supervisors defended themselves in a contempt-of-court hearing resulting from the escape. In the end, all of them were cleared of the contempt citation, but only because Chief Judge David Bell found that they, like the children at the center, were victims “of poor administration, poor city leadership, and poor government.”