Is there something in the water?
|First youth, then hurricane evacuees were tortured by Jena prison guards|
|Wednesday, 19 September 2007|
| Jena, Louisiana - Jena, the little town of 3,000 located about four hours north of New Orleans, where thousands of people are headed from all over the U.S. to a Sept. 20 rally for the young men known as the Jena 6, used to be best known for its notorious prison. |
Called Jena Juvenile Justice Center when Wackenhut opened it in 1998, it promised counselors and teachers with college degrees to help young people turn their lives around. But in 2000, it was closed after a federal lawsuit revealed that youth were regularly being raped, brutalized and humiliated.
Expressing shock, the judge said, "The way this facility operates or has operated in the recent past is that young people are treated as if they walk on all fours." The infirmary logged 100 serious traumatic injuries in less than two months - a rate of two a day.
Some teenagers became so distraught they slit their wrists on the razor wire that surrounded the prison. Is it any wonder - considering that Jena was probably the home of most of the prison personnel - that this is the town where injustice against the Jena 6 has shocked the world?
The prison was reopened in September 2005 to house prisoners evacuated after Hurricane Katrina. Pretrial detainees were sent to Jena from Jefferson Parish Prison just outside New Orleans. Like the teenage prisoners housed there before them, treatment of these men by the guards in Jena amounted to nothing less than torture.
Interviews conducted with them Oct. 4, 2005, by Human Rights Watch and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund (LDF) revealed widespread claims of abuse. Every detainee but one of the 23 interviewed reported that he had been hit or kicked by the prison staff.
Read the article here