This nonprofit is dismantling Louisiana’s school-to-prison pipeline
Meet Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children, one of the finalists for the 2020 Renewal Awards. Five winners each will receive $40,000 from The Atlantic and Allstate.
Meet the finalists for the 2020 Renewal Awards. The annual program from The Atlantic and Allstate honors nonprofits that are creatively solving problems in their communities. This year, five winners each will receive a $40,000 prize from The Atlantic and Allstate. Subscribe to our newsletter to be the first to find out who the winners are and follow the hashtag #RenewalAwards.
Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) is a statewide organization that has one core objective: to create a better life for Louisiana’s youth. Focusing on juvenile justice reform and education justice, FFLIC develops leadership skills in young people through programs such as Black Man Rising Movement and Black Girls Rising Movement. The New Orleans-based organization also provides support to parents through its PLAN program, or Parent Leadership Advocacy Network. This multigenerational approach ensures FFLIC is building up entire communities and disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline.
Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the nation. Although state leaders have pursued criminal justice reform, FFLIC co-founder Gina Womack believes they were not actually listening to the voices of the people most affected, people of color who are funneled into prisons at an early age, destroying families and devastating many lives.
“While there’s much talk about justice reform and closing youth prisons, few organizations are ready to embrace youth with a circle of wraparound support as they re-enter society,” states the organization’s Renewal Award nomination.
FFLIC offers multiple programs that equip and inform both parents and children and helps prepare them for leadership roles in their communities. All of FFLIC’s programs are meant to help families focus on juvenile justice reform and education justice by giving them the resources and network they need to remain active in policymaking.
FFLIC started as a type of support group for parents who were advocating for their children who were overwhelmed by Louisiana’s harsh and ineffective juvenile justice system. A year later, in September 2001, they took their message to the streets of New Orleans, staging a mock jazz funeral march. Protesters adapted this New Orleans tradition to mourn the lost freedom and diminished futures of Louisiana’s incarcerated children. More than 150 people marched onto Orleans Parish Juvenile Court to demand change.
In 2003, one of the group’s demands became a reality with the passing of the Juvenile Justice Reform Act, which called for an overhaul of the juvenile justice system and the closure of the notoriously brutal Tallulah Correctional Center for Youth.
Today, FLLIC continues to fight to reduce the number of incarcerated youth. Amid the COVID-19 health crisis, the nonprofit created an advocacy toolkit to promote the release of young people in the youth justice system to protect them from the spread of the virus. “As the … global pandemic continues to impact our country and way of life, we need to ensure that the most vulnerable among us are protected,” the message reads. Click on the toolkit to find out how you can advocate for Louisiana’s youth.