Louisiana looks to the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime as an example for reforming their criminal justice system.
“When you think of tough law and a no-nonsense place, you think of Texas,” said New Orleans businessman Jay Lapeyre. “They’re not soft on crime. So there must be some logic behind it.”
Louisiana leads the nation in incarceration. The state’s prison population doubled during the past couple of decades.
As discussed in The Advocate, Kevin Kane of the Pelican Institute, along with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, are working to reverse this trend. Click here to read the article.
The Reason Foundation presents 3 recommendations for decreasing the prison population, cutting expenses, and protecting public safety in Louisiana.
Today, the Reason Foundation, in conjunction with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy and the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Effective Justice, has announced the release of “Smart on Sentencing, Smart on Crime: An Argument for Reforming Louisiana’s Determinate Sentencing Laws.” The paper, authored by Lauren Galik and Julian Morris of the Reason Foundation, brings to light Louisiana’s outmoded overreliance on mandatory minimum sentences as a means of criminal deterrence.
Dismayed by the lack of severity of felony sentences and the swiftness with which they were applied, lawmakers in Louisiana passed a swath of determinate sentencing laws ranging from mandatory minimum legislation to habitual offender laws. The former statutorily imposes a “floor” – a minimum length of time a sentence must contain upon the finding of guilt for a specific crime. The latter requires the imposition of a mandatory minimum sentence based on how many felony re-offenses the individual has been found to have committed, the most notorious of which being “Three Strikes” laws.
While superficially an effective deterrent to criminal behavior, determinant sentencing laws wrest control of individual case processing and adjudication from the trained professionals of the criminal justice system and grant it to the legislature. This rote process limits the sentencing options available to the court and fails to take into account individual variation between cases. As such studies have shown that, while harsher sentences are more frequently given and prison populations swell under determinate sentencing schemes, there is no positive effect on public safety for the accompanying increase in cost.
Louisiana has shown the willingness to make sentencing reform a priority. Over the past two years, Louisiana lawmakers passed bills allowing courts to waive mandatory minimum requirements in certain situations, expanding eligibility for parole for nonviolent offenders, and incentivized further use of drug treatment and rehabilitation/vocational programs. With the coming interest this report is likely to generate, we eagerly look forward to the next wave of common sense criminal justice reforms for the state.
Louisiana leads the world in the number of people it imprisons, but the Pelican Institute, along with Texas Public Policy Foundation, have developed model legislation to remedy this problem.
Texas Public Policy Foundation’s counterpart, the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, will host “Safe & Fair Louisiana: A Forum on Criminal Justice Reform” at 7 PM on Wednesday, October 3 at UNO’s Jefferson Center, Room 317, for a public forum on criminal justice reform in Louisiana. Kevin Kane, Right on Crime signatory and president of the Pelican Institute, will serve as a panelist for the discussion on how to lower the Louisiana prison population while reducing taxpayer expenses and improving public safety.
In this National Review Online article, ROC policy analyst Vikrant Reddy discusses the ruling of Saint Joseph Abbey v. Castille, a case about the unlicensed sale of a funeral casket in Louisiana, and explains why it is “a significant victory against overcriminalization and unnecessary licensing.”
ROC signatory Grover Norquist co-authors this Reuters op-ed with Patrick Gleason, in which they further discuss how U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is late to the party regarding criminal justice reforms, noting that “it has been Republicans in the states who are leading the way.”
“Consider Texas, where the smart-on-crime policy reform movement began in 2003, when the state’s Republican legislators passed a law mandating that all non-dealer drug offenders convicted for possession of less than a gram be sentenced to probation instead of jail time.
Recognizing the success of smart-on-crime reforms in Texas, other states have now followed [Right on Crime's] lead.”