When Louisiana passed a set of bipartisan, data-driven criminal justice reforms two years ago, the legislation was rightly hailed as a historic step forward for a state that was long known as a poster child for our country’s mass incarceration crisis.

Since then, these reforms have helped us shed the shameful title of prison capital of the world — while enabling smart investments that are making our communities stronger and safer. More than $8 million has already been reinvested in programs to improve public safety, support victims, and help formerly incarcerated people re-enter society.

But this historic step forward must be followed by many more if we’re serious about fixing our broken criminal justice system and building a future that prioritizes people rather than prisons.

While data shows that the criminal justice reform package has begun to make a dent in our prison population, roughly 35,000 Louisianans are still languishing in cages. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is still far above the national average, which means that taxpayers are still footing the bill for a bloated prison system that has devastated communities of color and failed to make us safer.

Recently the ACLU’s Smart Justice Campaign released a 50-state blueprint for how to achieve two goals: cutting our prison population by 50 percent while also reducing its racial disparities.

As the first-ever state-by-state analysis developed to achieve these ambitious objectives, the blueprint bolsters the case for a bold, forward-looking reform agenda that will combat racial injustice and end our addiction to mass incarceration. And it makes clear that the 2017 justice reinvestment package marked the beginning — not the end — of the reforms needed to transform Louisiana’s broken criminal justice system.

Cutting our prison population in half will require a sustained, clear-eyed commitment by all of us. It’s not a goal we can achieve overnight. But there are some clear places to start, including with the recommendations made by the Justice Reinvestment Task Force that have yet to be enacted.

For example, Louisiana is one of only two states that mandate life sentences without parole for people charged with second-degree murder. This is one reason why one in five people imprisoned in Louisiana is over the age of 50. This needs to change. It’s time for the Legislature to pass reforms that will give people a chance to demonstrate rehabilitation and be reunited with their families.

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Louisiana’s draconian so-called “habitual offender” law is another major driver of mass incarceration that must be reformed. Nearly three of every four people admitted to prison under this law were convicted of a drug or property crime as their primary offense. We can’t imprison our way out of problems like poverty and addiction. Removing nonviolent offenses from the habitual offender law should be at the top of the Legislature’s to-do list this year.

It’s important to note that reducing our prison population will not — on its own — reduce the racial disparities in our prison system. Though black people account for just 33 percent of the state population, they make up 67 percent of Louisiana’s prison population. Rooting out racial bias requires systemic reforms, from ending the over-policing of black and brown communities to reducing reliance on cash bail. The ACLU of Louisiana and our partners are working to rein in all forms of pretrial detention, which disproportionately keep black people behind bars even though they have not been convicted of any crime.

Smart, evidence-based reforms have reduced Louisiana’s prison population by 8 percent, but having the second-highest incarceration rate in the nation is nothing to celebrate.

Now is the time to work even harder to build on this momentum and help Louisiana to lead the country in ending unnecessary mass incarceration, just as it led the country in causing it.

Alanah Odoms Hebert is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana.