Improving Our Justice System Through Discussion

Photo Credit: Jenn Bentley, Big Easy Magazine

The City of Yes wants to hear from you. From all of you.

Earlier this week Mayor LaToya Cantrell posted an invitation to a community discussion on the New Orleans justice system on her Facebook page:

“As part of The Sanford “Sandy” Krasnoff New Orleans Criminal Justice Council’s strategic planning process, we’re seeking input from the community to set our priorities.”

The dinner and “justice roundtable” event will take place from 5:30 PM to 8 PM on June 26th at the Laurenia (Pythian Market). Click here to RSVP through the Eventbrite embed.

It should go without saying that such outreach from the local government to the people is of immediate importance, given what’s happening with justice in New Orleans. According to the site, the council “decides the allocation and distribution of criminal justice grant fund for Orleans Parish as the official ‘pass-through’ agency for the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement.” Being in charge of such financial and informational data gives these board members much clout with Mayor Cantrell’s office. Holding attendance with them wouldn’t just be beneficial for voters and residents, but for the administration as well.

Louisiana as a state has seen a shift in reform. Lengthy sentences for non-violent offenses plagued people for decades, leading to increased risk of re-incarceration even. Now, the percentage of those being arrested after release is below the national average, now 19%. And a city council statistics site has given the public snapshots of what’s going on with their neighbors and what’s happening in their neighborhoods. Many other adjustments can be placed on the table, but only through openness and transparency will progressive values and ideas be brought up and engaged.

What are some progressive reform ideas? The Marshall Project has a really good section of articles to peruse, but off the top of our heads, may we recommend exploring:

  • Abolition of solitary confinement
  • Legalizing marijuana and providing clemency to nonviolent drug offenders
  • Heavy bail bond reform

Most of our 2020 Presidential candidates have spoken on such reforms, forcing views towards the left of center within the Democratic Party. For New Orleans, how we deal with crime is a dire scenario that must be updated and altered. Progressives and other concerned friends need to sign up for the above roundtable event and have their voices heard.

Bill Arceneaux has been an independent writer and film critic in the New Orleans area since 2011, working with outlets like Film Threat, DIG Baton Rouge, Crosstown Conversations, and Occupy. He is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association and is Rotten Tomatoes approved. Follow him on Twitter: @billreviews

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