J.H. v. Edwards
Juvenile Law Center, O'Melveny & Myers LLP, The Promise of Justice Initiative, and the Law Office of John Adcock, filed a class action lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana on behalf of all youth held in secure care facilities operated by the Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ) during the coronavirus pandemic. OJJ operates four secure care facilities for youth ages 10 to 21 where youth are housed in communal, unsanitary dormitories without access to necessary cleaning supplies or the ability to appropriately social distance.
Our lawsuit alleges that OJJ's insufficient response to COVID-19 is punishment rather than rehabilitation and places confined youth at substantial risk of serious physical, mental, developmental, and emotional harm. We allege that OJJ has failed to implement CDC recommended social distancing, proper sanitation, and hygiene practices or to reduce the population of confined youth to effectively limit the spread of COVID-19 within the facilities. We also allege that OJJ is subjecting youth to excessive periods of isolation and harmful pepper spray, and depriving them of an appropriate education or rehabilitative programming. Our lawsuit asks the court to order the immediate release of youth who can be safely returned to their communities and implement new protocols to protect the youth and staff who must remain in the facilities.