With 816 of every 100,000 Louisianans incarcerated, the state is famously known as the “prison capital” of the nation, if not the world. But many are concerned that imprisonment is the new form of slavery in Louisiana.
It is not difficult to see why. One statistic says that 5,000 black men from New Orleans are doing time yet only 400 white men from the city are behind bars as well. The disparity is glaring, and there is no reasonable answer as to why this is happening. Many chalk it up to a class divide, saying that more black people in New Orleans live in poorer areas and more crime happens in those areas; thus, more arrests of black people take place. But others say that it is blatant racism, a new form of slavery that is designed specifically to keep black men out of the way. Too many are incarcerated for nonviolent and/or drug-related charges for far longer than is just, wasting not only their lives and opportunities but also harming their family members. It creates a cycle of anger, poverty, and addiction that is difficult to break.
What do you think? Are prisons a legalized form of slavery in Louisiana? And whether they are or not, how do we move forward to repair the damage and help families and communities begin the healing process?
Change Is Coming
Not one legislator in Louisiana is proud that the state has such a high incarceration rate. All are working for less crime and a fairer system that helps people to do better after imprisonment and avoid getting trapped in the arrest-imprisonment-release cycle. The revolving door of the prison system helps no one, and in addition to the harm it does to individuals and their families, it is a costly endeavor. It costs more than $25,000 per year to incarcerate someone in the average Louisiana prison, adding up to about $700 million per year out of the state budget.
For all these reasons, a unique bipartisan effort took place that resulted in 10 bills that were signed into law by Governor John Bel Edwards.
Said Governor Edwards when signing the bills: “I’m signing these bills because a broken justice system leads to more crime, not less. Today, we begin building the system we want rather than continue to settle for the system we have.”
It’s a move that directly contradicts Trump’s recent call through Jeff Sessions for responding to even low-level drug violations with the maximum sentence possible – and one that is clearly necessary. With these laws will come shorter sentences through improved probation and parole programs for those charged with nonviolent offenses. It is expected that Louisiana’s prison population numbers will drop by 10 percent over the next 10 years and save taxpayers an estimated $262 million in the process.
Even better, about 70 percent of that projected savings has already been earmarked for increased treatment services and rehabilitation efforts. Louisiana is primed for change, and that change has already begun.
Let the Healing Begin
Addiction disorder manifests in a number of different behaviors, some illegal and some not. Imprisonment does nothing to address this disorder, and in most cases, it only further embeds harmful behavior patterns. Addiction can be deadly, and families who are welcoming loved ones home from prison, who have family members who are court-ordered to attend treatment, and who are hoping to help their loved one before they end up behind bars can all proactively address the situation through effective addiction treatment.
There are a number of different types of addiction treatment programs that can empower the healing process. The one that is right for your loved one will offer:
- A thorough evaluation and assessment process at the start of treatment
- A unique treatment plan that is created by a therapeutic team and designed to address the issues identified during the intake process
- A range of treatments and therapies provided by educated, experienced professionals that are research-based and known to be effective
- Regular case management to ensure that progress is being made toward treatment goals
- Aftercare and alumni group support after treatment is complete
Today can be the day that your family begins the healing process through treatment.