500 signatures reached
To: Louisiana State Legislature
Support the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force's Vision for Prison Reform
Sign this petition to support Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force's recommendation for criminal justice reform. The Task Force champions a package of legislation, which includes ten bills to cut the numbers of jail beds correctional facilities fill, create more parole opportunities, clear barriers to successful re-entry, and reinvest savings from the costs of incarceration to reduce recidivism and support victims.
Why is this important?
Louisiana lawmakers have a responsibility to solving the state’s incarceration crisis. That’s why we are encouraging LA legislators to endorse the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment (LJR) Task Force’s bills.
Across the South, state legislators are implementing policies to tackle the social and financial burdens associated with over-incarceration. If Louisiana lawmakers are serious about criminal justice reform, we need you to support bold, progressive legislation that undercuts wrongful incarceration and recidivism.
Right now, the State of Louisiana spends almost $2 million every day policing and incarcerating people, the majority of whom are nonviolent offenders picked up for drug possession or shoplifting. Everyday, Louisiana state legislators says, “NO” to investing an additional $2 million in public education, medical clinics, and food assistance programs. We are asking that you endorse new legislation advanced by the LJR Task Force and to say “YES” to laws that address some critical tensions in Louisiana :
- Louisiana law enforcement imprisons nonviolent offenders at almost 3 times the rate at which neighboring Southern states do.
- Louisiana does not employ enough parole officers to handle the large number of cases.
- Louisiana courts are issuing longer sentences to Louisiana offenders.
The stakes are high!
Legislators in other southern states have already moved beyond Louisiana’s practice of over-incarcerating and over-sentencing offenders. Louisiana has a nearly identical crime rate as both of South Carolina. However, Louisiana jails people for nonviolent offenses at twice the rate of South Carolina. And district attorneys in Louisiana have only exacerbated the detention statistics: resisting any criminal justice reform, clogging up the courts and jails, and wasting taxpayer money! The District attorneys, who have a great amount of influence in the criminal justice system, have lied again and again. They claim many Louisiana offenders have pled down from violent crimes or have criminal histories in order to distract from the truth: Louisiana chooses to be nation's leading incarcerator!
We cannot hide from the truth. When states put powerful reform policy in place, the results are positive. South Carolina has a crime rate similar to Louisiana, but with strong reform introduced, SC now sends half as many people to jail as Louisiana.
- Since passing reforms in 2010, South Carolina has seen its imprisonment rate fall by 16% and its crime rate fall by 16%.
- Since passing reforms in 2011, North Carolina has seen its imprisonment rate fall by 3% and its crime rate fall by 20%.
- Since passing reforms in 2012, Georgia has seen its imprisonment rate fall by 7% and its crime rate fall by 11%.
- Since passing reforms in 2014, Mississippi has averted all prison growth and seen a 6% reduction in its prison, population, alongside continued declines in the crime rate.
The people coming through Louisiana courts aren't different from those coming through criminal courts anywhere else. They're not worse than people in South Carolina and Florida. They're just subject to harsher laws. The LJR's work uncovered this fact -- and the scary falsehoods that the district attorneys are pushing are just plain wrong.
It's time for Louisiana to get up to speed.
The State of Louisiana, which operates with a $700 million correctional budget, has not hired enough parole officers to assist formerly incarcerated people through the re-entry process. Louisiana has stalled on addressing the staff shortage issues. Instead, Louisiana has decided to lengthen sentences. This creates even more barriers to returning home for people in prison. And when Louisiana cuts its correction budget in half next year, the incarceration crisis will worsen.
You, lawmakers, have a responsibility to use your office to protect the people in LA, whether they are serving time or now. Please endorse the LJR’s package of legislation that protects people of Louisiana from wrongful imprisonment and that support our re-entry. Additionally, these bills advocate for shorter sentences, reduced financial burden on taxpayers, and the personal development of formerly incarcerated people. These bills are designed to eliminate inconsistencies in sentencing, to ensure that those re-entering have access to food assistance and occupational licenses, and to reinvest money in research on reducing recidivism.
Over-incarcerating entire communities people is not the answer. Louisiana needs real reform now. Please sign this petition to support the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force's legislation package.