criminal justice reform

Wallis Watkins

In a meeting of a Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday, Representative Terry Landry (D-New Iberia) presented Senator Dan Claitor's (R-Baton Rouge) bill to eliminate the death penalty in Louisiana. 


Sue Lincoln

The second week of the session brought a kaleidoscope of activity to the Capitol, as color co-ordinated citizen activist groups and students sporting blue, yellow, red, green and/or purple  rallied on the steps and then cornered their lawmakers urging votes for equal pay, criminal justice reform, and mostly for more funding.


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The session’s first criminal justice reform bill is headed to the Senate floor. SB 16 by Dan Claitor addresses the problem of those previously sentenced to life without parole when they were juveniles.

Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson explained the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that penalty unconstitutional in several cases.

Sue Lincoln

“We have done the most comprehensive study of Louisiana’s criminal justice system in the history of our state,” Corrections Secretary Jimmy Leblanc said, as the Justice Reinvestment Task Force presented its final report, including 27 recommendations aimed at reducing Louisiana’s “world’s highest” incarceration rate.


Sue Lincoln

“…You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be provided for you at government expense…”

Thanks to movies and TV, we’re all familiar with those words from the Miranda warning.


Sue Lincoln

Louisiana’s business and industry community says it’s supporting the efforts to reform the state’s criminal justice system. 

“If we can get more people into that workforce somehow, devising those ways to move them from where they aren’t being productive to where they can be productive, it too is part of the big issue in terms of the budget,” Mike Olivier with the Committee of 100 says.


courtesy: The Rouge Collection

How did Louisiana end up with the world’s highest incarceration rate? Lafourche Parish Sheriff Craig Webre says it grew out of the late 1980’s national political emphasis on “law and order.”

“The prison population grew exponentially and it became, quite candidly, a cottage industry/prison industrial complex of housing people that were sentenced to jail,” Webre explains.  “And the Louisiana legislature passed laws that the judges enforced.”

Sue Lincoln

“It wasn’t easy, having to come back in society, with having to adjust myself to the real world after spending 35 years in prison.”

Reginald is in his 60s, and was sentenced to 121 years for armed robbery and attempted murder. Now, he’s out on parole, participating in an intensive reentry program through what’s known as a “day reporting center”.


Mark Carroll

What does the “world’s highest incarceration rate” really mean?

“It feels oftentimes that as DAs and judges we are flipping hamburgers because the volume that we have,” says East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore.

It also means that more than 5 out of every 10-thousand residents are in jail, at a cost of $600-million per year. And it means Louisiana desperately needs major criminal justice reform.

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“Crime and incarceration is only a manifestation of the failed policies and the neglect of our government to address the needs of the people of the state of Louisiana,” an irate Bridget Dinvaut, St. John Parish D.A, told the Justice Reinvestment Task Force Thursday.


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