A Mother’s Mission

Grace Bauer had her entire world turned upside down when her son entered one of the nation’s harshest juvenile justice systems. Fueled by a burning desire to alter the system, she soon became one of the nation’s most impassioned crusaders for sweeping juvenile justice reform. Editor Note: This story is a continuation of the series Mental Health and the Juvenile Justice System: Progress, Problems and Paradoxes. Readers may also be interested in visiting the Juvenile Justice Resource HUB for more information about mental health and the juvenile justice system. —
The death of Grace Bauer’s mother in 1998 triggered a cycle of grief that fully consumed her life for the better part of 15 years. “It became the mark we would measure time by,” she said. The pain, she said, was especially severe for her eldest child, Corey, who was 11 when his grandmother died.

Louisiana juvenile justice

Louisiana ‘Strayed’ from Commitment to Juvenile Justice Reform, Report Contends

Nearly a decade after Louisiana committed to sweeping changes to the state’s struggling juvenile justice system, some advocates contend the governor and leaders in the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice are “backsliding” on their commitments to reform. Advocates gathered on the steps of the state Capitol last week to unveil a report, “What’s Really Up Doc?: A Call for Reform of the Office of Juvenile Justice.” The 43-page document calls for the state’s recommitment to adopting a more therapeutic approach to juvenile justice based on the Missouri model as well as commitments to increase funding for community-based programs and replace some of OJJ’s top brass, among other goals. “In 2003, the state of Louisiana recognized that juvenile justice reform produced better outcomes for its citizens, youth and families, and made a commitment to this path,” the report said. “A decade later, the state has unfortunately strayed from this commitment, with facility and OJJ practices that are contradictory to the goals of reform.”

The state adopted reform legislation in 2003, also known as Act 1225, on the heels of highly publicized violence within youth detention facilities and litigation with the Department of Justice that found conditions of confinement for some youth in the system unconstitutional. Modeled after Missouri’s system that places an emphasis on rehabilitation and community-based programs rather than detention for troubled youth, Louisiana’s program was dubbed LAMOD – or the Louisiana Model.