NEW ORLEANS—The ACLU of Louisiana has released the following statement in response to Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry’s call for an extraordinary session of the Louisiana Legislature regarding crime.
The governor issued a proclamation calling for the session on Thursday afternoon. The 24-item document calls upon members of Louisiana State House and Senate to rollback several key criminal justice reforms policies the state has enacted, including Act 354, which makes a defendant’s creative or artistic expression inadmissible in court. The law was only enacted in June 2023.
“The ACLU of Louisiana is deeply concerned with the “tough on crime” sweeping policy proposals of the governor. From the restriction of parole eligibility, good time, and earned compliance to the lowering of the age of majority for juveniles. The governor’s policy proposals are not evidenced based, lack the data necessary to inform sound criminal justice policy, and will disproportionately harm communities of color.
Lengthier sentences imposed upon Louisianians will cost taxpayers millions of dollars, do not decrease crime, increase recidivism, and unduly target Black and Brown communities. Many of the policy actions outlined by the governor’s proclamation directly contradict well-established research regarding criminal justice in the state.
According to a 2023 report by the Council on Criminal Justice, policies establishing lengthy and excessive sentences, such as mandatory minimums, fail to produce significant deterrent effects and increase racial disparities in sentencing.
Also in 2023, the Sentencing Project found that 46% of the total number of people serving life or sentences of 50 years or more were Black. Likewise, the Council on Criminal Justice found that, in 2020, Black adults were 24% more likely to receive a long sentence than White adults and twice as likely as White adults to have been released from prison after serving a long sentence.
Rather than expeditiously passing policies based on anecdotes, the Louisiana Legislature should allow their work to be informed by well-researched and evidence-based smart on crime reform efforts.”