criminal justice reform

Mark Carroll

"What we are tasked with accomplishing is to create a system for over 600 felony offenses," explains former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, who is chairing the state's Felony Class System Task Force.

The group is looking to categorize offenses as A, B, C, D types, etc., generally based on current sentence ranges delineated in Louisiana law. Polite admits it's not easy to untangle the issues.

Sue Lincoln / WRKF

Kerry Myers served on the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Task Force and says he’s dismayed at the people watching and waiting for the reforms to fail.

“There are some people in this state that would love to find the next Willie Horton," says Myers. "That’s unfortunate because that began driving policy – policy based on fear, policy based on ignorance.”

But Myers, who also served time at Angola, is a realist, as well.

Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice

"We've been told by the United States Supreme Court, 'You guys have to fix this,'" Baton Rouge Sen. Dan Claitor said, when he brought this year's bill to restrict sentencing juveniles to life without parole.

But Act 277, Louisiana's legislative response to the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Louisiana, may need a do-over.


Sabine Heinlein

Many aspects of Louisiana’s criminal justice overhaul go into effect today.

“The prison population grew exponentially, and it became — quite candidly — a cottage industry/prison industrial complex of housing people that were sentenced to jail,” explains LaFourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre, who backed the changes. “Now we are moving away from that model, and there’s going to be some difficulty in that.”


courtesy: U.S. Justice Action Network

State Representative Patricia Smith of Baton Rouge was a featured speaker at the U.S. Justice Action Network’s seminar on incarcerated women’s issues Tuesday, in Washington D.C.  Her work on Louisiana’s recent criminal justice reform package was applauded.

“It was a bi-partisan collective work from a lot of people,” Smith told the overflow crowd at the seminar’s breakout session focusing on rehabilitation issues.

lsmsa.edu

The House worked long and hard Monday, passing Senate bills before the session countdown clock required shifting to a two-thirds majority vote on all items.


screenshot from legis.la.gov

Though it’s not yet a done deal, criminal justice reform is nearing the legislative finish line.


lpb.org

“There isn’t a whole lot looks like that’s going to get accomplished in this session.”

Senate President John Alario admits he’s feeling pessimistic as we head into the final nine days of this fiscal session, and what happens today may tell the tale of the session’s success or failure.


screenshot: legis.la.gov

When House Republican Caucus chair Lance Harris squared off with New Orleans Senator Karen Carter Peterson – who is the chair of the state Democratic Party, it was partisan pugilism of the verbal variety.

Harris’ bill to increase parole fees by 50% was the issue.


wikimedia commons

There is much that divides Louisiana’s lawmakers, but when it comes to criminal justice reform and reinvestment…

“Representative Leger and I finally found something we can agree on,” Denham Springs Republican Valarie Hodges said, with a laugh.

“Love it!” New Orleans Democrat Walt Leger responded.


Pages