NASW amicus brief helps lead to court ordering children removed from Louisiana Angola Prison

Feb 14, 2024

A lonely man in prison yard

The National Association of Social Workers (NASW), including our Louisiana Chapter, along with six other organizations, in November 2023 filed an amicus brief in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. Through our brief, NASW opposes the placement of children in adult prisons and supports the removal of children from Angola Prison, an adult maximum-security prison in Louisiana. In August 2023, the youth, now part of a certified class, demonstrated that they had been subjected to abusive conditions at Angola Prison, including solitary confinement, excessive force, the routine use of handcuffs, shackles, and chemical agents (mace). In September 2023, the court ordered the state to remove the children from Angola Prison, deeming the conditions as cruel and unusual punishment. The state has now appealed this order to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Consistent with our published policy statements, NASW supports assisting children and youths who enter the juvenile justice system in a manner commensurate with their age, developmental level, and ability to differentiate between right and wrong. The amicus brief explains the detrimental impact placing children in an adult prison system has on their development, safety, and chances of successful reintegration into society. Adult prisons are often ill-equipped to protect children from harm and subject them to solitary confinement and physical violence.  Adult prisons also provide insufficient access to educational programming and mental and physical health services. Placing children in adult prisons contradicts the principles of juvenile justice, which emphasizes rehabilitation over punishment. NASW hopes the amicus brief will provide the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals with information that will persuade the court to allow the order to stand, and to not return children to Angola prison.

NASW’s involvement in this case was coordinated by its Legal Defense Fund (LDF). Since 1972, the LDF has provided financial legal assistance and support for legal cases and issues of concern to NASW members and the social work profession. LDF supports educational projects and programs to improve the legal status and knowledge of the social work profession. Learn more about the LDF at www.socialworkers.org/About/Legal/Legal-Defense-Fund.

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