When the war on crime started, the term “gateway drug” was used to describe why we arrested and incarcerated people for possession of small amount of less harmful drugs. We were told this would stop more serious problems for both the person and society.
But in Louisiana today, the term could be used to describe a system of using drug offenses as a “gateway” to keep the jails and prisons full. This then creates more serious problems for both the person and for society by transforming a citizen into a felon. Who benefits from this pipeline filling jails? Sheriffs, prison operators and prosecutors. The sheriffs run jails that profit their offices; why they want to protect these profits is easily understandable. But that doesn’t mean we agree with it.
Correcting the excessive sentences some received under the laws created during the “war on drugs,” “tough on crime” and “three strikes” phases (or fashions) in the politics of law enforcement is something we need to do now, in this legislative session. Using saved tax dollars to train, parole and return to society those affected is a better idea that handing more tax dollars to sheriffs and prisons to keep those people in jail for a joint or a pill.
The opposition to prison reform is not about the safety of our citizens, it’s about keeping an industry going using our tax dollars.
Tell our legislators we expect them to support the Louisiana Justice Reform package that they will be voting on to reduce incarceration for non-violent crime and especially for victimless crime. We want them to change the laws that keep jails and prisons full and our tax dollars going to them.