by Alex Mikulich, Ph.D.
A collective sigh of relief emanated from the statehouse at 6:00 pm on June 11, 2015. The Louisiana legislature passed a last-minute budget-bill that appears to avoid fiscal disaster—at least for now. Legislators performed political acrobatics that enable the Governor to claim this budget is revenue neutral when in fact, and by necessity, businesses will pay more taxes.
Yet there is reason to hope beyond all the legislative antics. Governor Jindal says he intends to sign a package of significant criminal justice reform bills that actually save money and make our state a better place.
HCR 82, authored by Representative Walt Leger, creates the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force to develop sentencing and corrections policy recommendations. HCR 82 sets Louisiana on a path toward more comprehensive sentencing reform that reduces over-incarceration, saves money, and makes our state safer.
The legislature gave strong bi-partisan support to a bill easing penalties for marijuana possession. Originally authored by Senator J.B. Morell (SB241) and Representative Austin Badon (HB149) (both of New Orleans), this sentencing reform will save the state nearly $17 million over five years according to the state’s fiscal analyst.
By Dr. Alex Mikulich
Over 100 years ago, in his introduction to The Souls of Black Folk, W.E. B. Du Bois wrote: “the problem of the Twentieth Century is the problem of the color-line.” Despite claims that we live in a “post-racial” society after the historic election of Barack Obama, the fact remains that the color line and racial hierarchy endures in the 21st century. At issue for the Jesuit Social Research Institute, from the perspective of Roman Catholic social teaching and thought, is the persistence of disproportionate advantage for white Americans in relationship to pervasive and persistent disproportionate disadvantage for people of color in every sphere of life including health, wealth, income, education, housing, and the criminal justice system. More than one issue among others, the contradiction between Gospel values and practices of racial inequality is scandalous. The contradiction between Roman Catholic and American claims for universal human dignity and equality, and the reality of social, political, and economic advantage that white Americans consciously and unconsciously accept and assume, betrays this scandal. This article continues here.
Honoring Our Sacred Obligations -- Mikulich
The Monstrous Elegance of White Supremacy -- Mikulich
Six Myths of Payday Lending -- Mikulich
Race and the 2012 Presidential Election--Mikulich
The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich