If we reduce the prison population to the national average we could save at least three-quarters of a billion dollars per year off the state budget. (And, we would still have the highest rate of imprisonment in the world.)

Our population is no different from other big city-states, so there is no reason our prison population should be 50 percent higher than the national average, as it now is. Break up the caging of Louisiana residents and the prosecutorial practices that eliminate the ability of a man, black or white, to get a fair and impartial trial. Reduce the Draconian sentencing and stop treating every third-time shoplifter or marijuana-user like he’s Telly Hankton, once described by police as one of New Orleans’ most-dangerous criminals.

We would discover how reducing prison population reduces the crime rate and save part of the $2 billion per year we spend on it.

If we can reform our school system, we can reform our criminal justice system. Our schools were the worst in the country, but no longer. Our imprisonment is the worst in the country, and doesn’t have to be.

Edward Ray Young

investor contractor

New Orleans