Monday, April 16, 2012

Brown Bag Lunch #3: People, Prisons & Profits

LAJUICE (Louisianians Against Jindal's Unjust Intentionally Created Emergency) held its third Brown Bag Lunch on the topic of prison privatization. This event was held on Wednesday, April 4.

Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration in the United States. Mandatory sentencing laws have worsened the problem by taking power away from judges to make the punishment fit the crime — and the perpetrator. As a result, most of the growth in our prison population is from non-violent crimes and most of those involve the possession, use or sale of drugs.

Michelle Alexander's book, "The New Jim Crow" explains the connection between the national explosion of the number of people in prison and the war on drugs. The same forces are at work in Louisiana.

Louisiana House members James Armes of Leesville and Robert Johnson of Marksville looked at the prison privatization issue. Dr. Joe Connelly, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge looked at privatization in the context of mass incarceration.

Representative James Armes of Leesville declared privatization a failure:

Representative Robert Johnson of Marksville said privatization is an admission of failure on the part of elected officials.

Dr. Joe Connelly, pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, moved beyond the political to the moral and ethical implications of mass incarceration in Louisiana, the state with the highest rates of incarceration in the country.

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