Allison Zimmer Calls for Urgent Education Plan for Children in Louisiana’s Juvenile Justice System

Allison Zimmer (’20), Staff Attorney at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights, was interviewed on New Orleans’ WWL-TV News sounding the alarm in response to Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards’ plan to relocate children in custody to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola during building and renovation of juvenile facilities. Allison was joined by advocates from Loyola University New Orleans College of Law and the Southern Poverty Law Center in a letter demanding that the State of Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice (OJJ), the Department of Corrections (DOC), the Special School District (SSD), and the Louisiana Department of Education (LDE) urgently provide a detailed written plan specifying how children at Angola will receive the general and special education guaranteed to them under state and federal law. In a press release published by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Allison stated, “The governor’s outrageous decision to move children to Angola will not only expose vulnerable children to serious risk of physical harm and trauma, but it will also deprive children of their legal right to individualized and supportive education. . . . OJJ has repeatedly failed to provide quality education to youth in custody, so we have grave concerns about its ability to do so at Angola. Education for the most vulnerable youth cannot be an afterthought, as it is not only their right but a critical component of their rehabilitation.” (“Advocates Demand Education Plan for Youth Moving to Angola Prison,” Aug. 3). Allison also expressed concerns about access to counseling, psychological services, speech therapy and physical therapy: “If they’re not getting those services they would be getting in the community, then they’re going to return home behind.” (“Incarcerated Youth Aren’t Getting the Education They Need to Live Outside Jail, Experts Worry,” July 22).