ACLU of Louisiana

In 1883, the federal government banned debtors prisons in the United States. In 1972, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans ruled that "pay or stay" practices - which compel someone to pay a court fine on the spot or be jailed - were also illegal. In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that people can only be jailed for refusing to pay court fines, not for being too poor to do so.

However, according to a recent report by the ACLU of Louisiana, these practices are still happening today.

President Obama toured a federal prison in Oklahoma on Thursday and said the nation needs to reconsider policies that contribute to a huge spike in the number of people behind bars.

In an unprecedented visit by a sitting president, Obama met with half a dozen inmates at the El Reno prison, outside Oklahoma City. The trip was part of a weeklong push by the White House to focus attention on the president's call for criminal justice reform.

Prosecutors usually spend their energy putting criminals behind bars, not urging their release. But racial disparities in the system and the huge costs of locking up so many people are pushing some government officials to call for a new approach.

One of them is the woman who now runs day-to-day operations at the Justice Department. Sally Yates says she's hardly soft on crime: "I'm a career prosecutor."

District Attorney: First Treat the Mental Illness

Mar 20, 2015

Hillar Moore, was an investigator in the East Baton Rouge District Attorney’s Office for 11 years, and a criminal defense attorney for 16 years, before he was elected DA himself.

With his long career in law enforcement, it has not escaped him that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country.

Brennan Center

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

The Brennan Center for Justice recently put out a report on the effect of imprisonment on crime. Lauren-Brooke Eisen, one of the authors of the report, walks through some of the findings.