Friday, January 10, 2014

Safe & Fair Louisiana: A Forum on Criminal Justice Reform

As other writers have noted, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate not only in the United States but in the world. Its incarceration rate is "nearly five times Iran's, 13 times China's and 20 times Germany's," as an investigation by Cindy Chang, of the New Orleans-Times Picayune, reveals. According to the National Institution of Corrections, in 2010, Louisiana had a rate "about 115% higher than the national average of incarcerated (in prison) adults per 100,000." The social and economic costs of this high incarceration rate have captured the attention and concern of citizens and politicians alike, on both sides of the political aisle, and a nonpartisan movement to address these costs is gathering momentum.

The ACLU of Louisiana and the Pelican Institute for Public Policy have joined together to explore whether or not policymakers can take steps to lower the prison population and reduce taxpayer expense while improving public safety. Last fall the two organizations sponsored panel discussions about the costs of mass incarceration in Louisiana. The first forum was held on the University of New Orleans' Jefferson campus and the second in Lafayette on the South Louisiana Community College campus. Now the two organizations will be presenting a similar panel discussion on the Northshore.

This upcoming forum, sponsored by the ACLU of Louisiana and the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, will be moderated by Ashley Rodrigue of WWL. Panelists include Majorie R. Esman, Executive Director, ACLU of Louisiana; Kevin Kane, President, Pelican Institute; and Ricky Wicker, Judge, Louisiana Sentencing Commission.

The forum will take place on Thursday, January 23, 2014, at 7:00 p.m., at the Abita Springs Town Hall, 22161 Level St., Abita Springs, LA.

The forum is free and open to the public.

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