Recent disciplinary actions at the city’s juvenile prison, along with a pair of damning new reports, raise fresh questions about the safety of juvenile detention centers in New Orleans and across the state and country. Documents released in response to a public-records request from The Lens show that in May the City of New Orleans fired an employee at the Youth Study Center in Gentilly, after the worker admitted threatening to “knock the f— out of” a youth, and for sleeping on duty.
Despite concerns from some neighbors, Mayor Mitch Landrieu said this week that the city will rebuild its juvenile jail where it now stands – right across from a city playground and the site of a planned high school in the Bayou St. John area.
A federal judge gave final approval Friday to two agreements for broad reform at the New Orleans juvenile detention center. Judge Ivan L.R. Lemelle’s approval of the consent decrees legally obligates the city and Orleans Parish School Board to improve conditions and increase educational resources at the jail-like facility, a holding center for juvenile offenders euphemistically named the Youth Study Center.