[NEWGet Smart Louisiana: Reforms open way for smarter, comprehensive sentencing in the future

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.[1]   

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.[2]  

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.[3]  



An Introduction to Race, Racism, and Whiteness

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

ARCHIVED Articles on Racism:

Honoring Our Sacred Obligations -- Mikulich

Smart Criminal Justice Reform: Mississippi and Texas Leading Gulf South States -- Mikulich

A Last Will and Testament: The Freedom Riders' enduring legacy -- Mikulich

The Monstrous Elegance of White Supremacy -- Mikulich

Six Myths of Payday Lending -- Mikulich

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Becoming Maladjusted for the Beloved Community-- Mikulich 

Marching for Racial Justice in Contemplation and Protest-- Mikulich

The Gift of W.E.B. Du Bois and Double-Consciousness--Mikulich

Thomas Merton’s “Letters to a White Liberal”--Mikulich

A Victory for Democracy: Americans repudiate voter suppression, racism--Mikulich

Race and the 2012 Presidential Election--Mikulich

The Real Fraud in “Voter Fraud”: How so-called reform laws aim to disenfranchise voters -- Mikulich

The Payday Shark in Your Bank Account -- Mikulich

Changing the Script: A Starting Point for Reducing Gun Violence--Mikulich

Stop Casting Stones: The Failure of Punitive Crime Policy--Mikulich

No Relief in Sight: Persistent High Unemployment for African Americans and Latinos in Gulf South States -- Mikulich

View all Racism articles »

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