(Feb. 24 in the Advocate/T-P newspapers) Obviously, the following words fell on deaf ears, because the Legislature went ahead and passed all the bills that the below column said are awful (along with the good bills, too)…. Here’s how the now-outdated column began:

Gov. Jeff Landry’s package of criminal justice proposals is a decidedly mixed bag, with some decent instincts and good elements offset by some terrible ideas that might make society less, not more, safe.

Some of his initiatives are inexcusably cruel, for no good reason. Also without good reason is Landry’s targeting of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative of 2017, a package actually spearheaded by conservatives, yet one which he demagogically and inaccurately uses as a scapegoat for a spike in crime. Too much of Landry’s agenda involves posturing as a “tough-on-crime” big shot without regard to actual effectiveness for the public weal.

To give Landry credit, he is absolutely right that excessive leniency against crime is an invitation to unsafe streets. Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, before he lost his marbles, proved that it pays to sweat the small stuff such as graffiti and broken windows. Criminals should be arrested and prosecuted, period. With that theory, Giuliani in eight years turned New York from a crime-ridden hellhole into one of the safest big cities in the world.

On the other hand, not all convicted offenders should be locked up. [Again: Convicted, yes; locked up; not necessarily.] For lesser crimes, alternative sentencing and rehabilitation make lots more sense. That was the key insight of the late Kevin Kane, who founded the conservative Pelican Institute and spent years building the coalition that passed the 2017 reforms (and a few earlier ones). For nonviolent crimes committed by first-time offenders, it can cost society more, not just in government spending but in toto, to lock them up than to help them become productive members of society…. In the current special session, meanwhile, one of the most counterproductive bills imaginable is one to end parole entirely [even for non-violent offenders]. This is inhumane — a species of viciousness falsely dressed up as justice…. [For the rest of this column, follow this link.]


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