WWL>Topics>>3-27-14 1:10pm Angela: on reducing crime, part 1

3-27-14 1:10pm Angela: on reducing crime, part 1

Mar 27, 2014|

Angela talks about crime reduction with Jay Lapeyre of Laitrum, Craig DeRoche of Justice Fellowship, local developer Pres Kabacoff, Kevin Kane of the Pelican Institute, and pastors Antoine Barriere and David Crosby.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

Well welcome to come from them and get it right this time it's Thursday and it's a nice Thursday and we have. A two -- blockbuster and I really mean that this is a subject that is going to affect all of us. And that needs to be discussed at length and we have a whole roomful of just incredible people. Who want to talk and we wanna hear from -- was well 260187. According to the Louisiana budget project. Spending on higher education has dropped to the point where we spend more money on prisons and corrections. That we do on college education it's. Five years ago education spending outpaced prisons to the one. Incarceration is costing the state of fortune and more importantly. Is making a steal any safer. Literally thousands on non violent of nonviolent prisoners could be paying their debt to society in other ways. Other than expense of incarceration. There's a group who joins us today who wants to seek changes in our criminal justice system not going soft on crime. But rather getting Smart on crime. Joining us to talk for the next two hours about a subject important to all of us. Is. CEO of the late from company and former chair of the business council. Pastor David Crosby of the first Baptist church of New Orleans. Press have a cough well known developer and a vocal supporter of pretrial services. Pastor -- burial of the household of faith family worship sooner. Kevin Kane president of the pelican institute for public policy. And Oliver Thomas a man who we all know is a former city councilman. Who can definitely speak from experience. About the jail experience and the need for change. We have a lot to talk about I again thank each and every one of you for being here it is going to be too. Very important hours for all of us to get her points across and that means for a listening audience as well so they are invited to 601870. I would like to start however with -- -- pair. -- -- You've been selected in the business community why are you taking this stand on that we must have changes. Well thank you and appreciate. Being on in and enjoy this group. On I think that business. Angle on this is a very straightforward one if you start with -- well called the extremes in the theory can sort of assignment. We have. A policy of putting nonviolent offenders behind bars. That is. Generally accepted in all business conversations that I've had. To take nonviolent offenders put him behind bars it's it's bad policy in the sensitive waste money. It's bad policy in the sense that it ultimately Rangers public safety and not just to on. Short term public safety but potentially very long term public safety in the sense that the immense social costs of doing that. Create the potential for ripples that transcend generations. There's this cultural. Impact and implications. That it broader -- Even in particular individuals so when you look at that -- is currently do it better. It very clear that there is and what drives business look at it is is the is that fiscal waste. And then and the work force waste because people who could have been. A developing skills and contributing to society. Are actually on the on the reverse side of costing society. And and you also. I think a lot of business people looking at the moral question of saying if you. When you have arbitrary law one of the basic principles from most business people as they want clear predictable rules and so again quickly the idea that if the rules are clear sore. Forum. -- people and as arbitrary enforcement you don't happens in impartial. And unbiased in uniform enforcement policies. That you really do create this trusty -- arbitrary prosecutions secret lots of potential problems. And even if those problems are widespread even single examples of them com. Well call you know a cultural war and create broad deep problems so. It's pretty simple. Question at the extreme just say should we be doing this in the -- clearly you know. -- the practical challenges of moving from where we've bar. With this policy to where we want to be that we make sure that we. Don't injured short term public safety and make sure we put the money into alternate sentencing -- it would make sure we. We have the reentry programs that we make sure we align the incentives so that we can win in the political fight -- at all. Complicated difficult questions -- Japanese and others to test subjects like now that dresses. And can also speak to that but I think. Honestly more I think most business people a scandal. You know I think it has to be a mention of this didn't happen overnight these enormous numbers of people incarcerated and the other parts of the system we've talked about. Such as the reentry program an existing centers -- -- And and it may not change overnight but it is it's as if we are collectively looking at our community now saying. This isn't working and we've got to make it better. And and on and looking at the reverend Sheikh is his head. It is the cost to business it is the cost lives. And if pastor very you'd like to address that. I mean that the number one thing again it's not work you know we we incarcerate more people anywhere else in the world. So we ought to be and most safest place in the world but we're not we're more dangerous or more violent. And so we have to make this adjustment. It's continually ruining ruining families and young lives and we wanna make sure. That this turns around and this is the step as we all come together. But Kevin as some jail apparent mentioned perhaps you can get -- a focus on what it's costing the state. Sure well I mean. As Jay noted news do when you talk about cost usually two separate things I mean there's there's literally the dollars and cents of it. Which are substantial. And I mean -- or prison population. In about a twenty year period basically doubled from about 20040000. That's really an astonishing. Increase. And and so the incarceration cost her. You know and in the order of about 750 million dollars. And so those are that these two dollars and cents closer obviously. Significant and and -- you have to think about that put the budget challenges were always facing you know it's always difficult to balance the state budget. That's money can be spent on other things as you noted higher -- -- world. Any number of other things. But they're they're the social clause which you really cannot measure but are obviously there. And I think pastor is certainly have a good sense of matches from the from the from the members of their churches. Who who deal with this in a way that many of us fortunately don't have to. But I mean there's just you know kind of visual evidence drive through certain neighborhoods. Where you know it's a very there's a very high rate. A high percentage of put off in the mostly young men. Who are not fair. And integrated view of many that shouldn't be there and then and you know when you're talking about reducing incarceration rate your ideas not just randomly let people around. But we know. That very high number of people who -- incarcerated. I've never. Been convicted of violent crime and so's you know the question becomes what do we do with people. Who don't oppose that sort of threat to us a physical threat. Maybe they have a drug problem. Maybe just -- they've broken the law they've stolen. And they need to pay a price for that there's no question about that but is locking somebody up for an extended period of time the best way of dealing with that I think evidence from other states shows that it that it isn't. We're gonna take a break I wanna say it again we're going to be here two hours I do want your calls and we have. Other people have a great deal to say and we're going to be talking about some very specific laws are being proposed. And we're gonna get to those but I'm also very interested to know who you think would be against these kinds of changes so stay with us I'm Angela under the to do well. We have a whole coalition of people home. In a group called Smart on crime and it's really looking trying to address our criminal justice system in the state Louisiana. What it is costing us both financially which is enormous. And on the human level and I think the message very clearly is it's not working. And so what -- -- to be smarter on crime it isn't. Saying just let people out of prison it's looking at we're not looking at the violent offender we're looking at the nonviolent offender who I -- it would be the majority. And saying. One yes they have a punishment how can they do that how can we get them. Back on track to a productive life. I mean it's a very complex issue but one that must be addressed and again we are so lucky to have with this press -- -- Pastor and on varying Kevin came with pelican institute pastor David Crosby with first Baptist church and Oliver Thomas Oliver Thomas. You've had quite a life. Men and you more obviously our City Council he got in trouble you went to prison he paid the piper and year out but the lessons learned from that. Addressed what we're talking about. Well I think Kevin came as the pelican institute. Is right on and Jamie talks about cultural four full four -- was vs reality. If this is not a good investment. But when you look at we know that are -- educational pre K uniformly used as the best investment you can make and it's now. While we have an education. Mind is terrible thing to waste and then during his recovery we -- taken dollars and put in the train or retooling our workforce to do with this recovery. Multibillion dollar recovery economy president increasing the prison budget. What we we know that there's value medical research that would many medical assistance are going to be thirty thirty five or 40000 dollars -- that we could have. Retooled society to do that instead of investing. I imprisoned and in Tripoli simply if you read the experts. From around the world and even those in American and middle seventies. The commissioner and oversaw prisons in America through that if we're going to be successful fight against crime. We should not build any new -- facilities in closed juvenile facilities I was in before the war on drugs. And Michelle Alexander -- books and outlines the history of incarceration. Simply like everyone here admits simply it has not worked and would not be anything from. We've always done is what Ralph data -- we would do. Several years ago when he hit thirty or forty years ago that the president -- for complex would begin to bankrupt most states and local communities and that's where we're headed right now. Let's talk about how we got were BR you've tapped on it we build more jails. I'm I'm sensing and anyone correct me that we have now a system of prisons. That half to. Keep them going to. To get the funds to keep them going. So it's not to their benefit to have fewer prisoners. Right I mean I think one thing that's. Important for people to understand is that. About half of the state prisoners. Morrow housed in local prisons. Which is supervised by the sheriffs around the state many of the larger ones are in rural parishes. And course treat prisoners that they hold they get pretty money from the state. So has created an incentive. To keep as many people as possible because that's now -- big part of their budget. In some cases you -- places that may have built new facilities. Expecting a certain stream of revenue from the state. So if that if that revenue stream decreases you know they've got big problems. And they are and we point that Sampras what is it if it's worth understanding that this is a very unusual arrangement. There's really no other state. That does that has to this extent. And and I don't say that as a really I'm not even criticizing mr. necessarily hear me. We didn't need a place to house the house inmates. And rather than build new facilities. This was his -- the route to the states I mean the shares are doing what they were arrested do. And down. And now granted I think it's wrong for terrorists to oppose sensible. Reforms. Purely on the basis that they're depending on the relying on that money at the same time I think realistically. How will we ought to be looking at a policy standpoint. Ways to soften the blow so what they are going to house fewer inmates and I think that's so that we rule striving for. You know maybe -- can get money for alternative programs -- alternatives to incarceration. And and you know maybe that's sort of the win win we -- -- looking for. -- Euro into a very good point. Since this makes so much sense why is it going to be difficult to change. And I think Kevin rightly points out that that we created. -- prison industrial complex. Where they not only have so inexpensive employees. They sell goods. They have to pay back. Cost of prison improvements that they've bonded out. And so as you look at the country. And see almost every state including the red states in the south. Are changing the rules just because they recognize we did the wrong thing starting in the 1970s. It's -- pointed out. But doubling or tripling the amount of people that -- incarcerating and not improving the situation. Other states are changing the rules I think Kevin will point -- in Georgia. Again a southern state. The legislative decisions on the subject were unanimous in many cases yet at Louisiana because of this unique system that we're talking about. We share of having created a prison industry. Albeit at the request perhaps but nevertheless. That cycle. In their power shares -- very powerful in the state Louisiana and influence the legislature. And so we have to find a way. Either to bring them on board or to beat them in the best Kevin points at the best way to bring them on board. Is to retool. Some of the funding in the industry so rather than imprisoning people they're taking care of reentry issues. And other areas that you really need to address if you're going to be letting people -- I remember haven't gone to Angola several times interviewing Burl Cain. And who is a very wise man. And he. I asked about this you know where did we get this huge number population and forced at Angola most of them are all violence on many of them are never going to get out. And in his set he said it was because the sort of enthusiasm. Of the populace to stop crime. And this is what we can do and legislators jumped on and this is an easy thing to do we'll change the law and make it tougher more warehouse. But even he will -- as he walks through the court doors at what is now dormitories. That's not the best way to beat. To have men you know in situations where their forty in a room. So that there's a sensitivity to. That even though what these people have done something wrong and they need to pay back. That they shouldn't have to live. So badly and it. I'm getting very ironic point that you make though. When you go to Angola. Where you do have violent criminals spending lifetimes there need to be off the street. We spend our incarceration. -- and training dollars. In those facilities. But not in the facilities where non violent people who could use some help and some guidance in getting the dollars so we currently do everything almost back. 85% of Angola's population is who's never gonna. Come home -- that 50%. The other thing is that the prisons and and for those of us who understand the system a minimum called gladiator -- So you have young men who are nonviolent. Who are sent to some of these hard core institutions of a minor crimes -- minor offense and nonviolent offenses who actually prepared. Street gladiators to come back in a more violent fashion and actually win in. And the reality most of middle America doesn't want to understand reality of prison for someone who's been there somewhere drugs. In prison whenever someone opened little -- war. Everybody have a cellphone. Our guys during grey goose and Tennessee. On the weekends so this -- people have created about locking folk up and let me say this ex offenders there there's some of the most conservative. People who who who who change their lives you have wanna -- they believe in crime and punishment. But with -- with with what they believe there is being sensible the investment outlook for businessman. It's not a good investment when you have to speak pantsuit to spend 23 or four times our investment that does that give you anywhere near the return. Of investment that's happened that that plays out in terms of investing in a child over the term of their life so it doesn't it's not just that fiscally responsible. And it's definitely irrational in terms of how you how we should budget our money. Stay with us everyone were getting Smart on crime we now have to go to the newsroom and see what's happening with Jim -- Once again we're talking about being Smart on crime it's it's an actual coalition of people. And a little bit later we're gonna talk about exactly who's in that collision and I'm fascinated by it is I know you will be too and yet very heartened by it. But renowned joined by Craig -- Roach who is president of the justice fellowship which is the criminal justice. And public policy arm. Of prison fellowship and Craig and I appreciate you joining us. -- -- -- -- -- -- that you sort of go all over the country -- are going to be coming here. To address the very things that were talking about and just sort of your insights. -- my insights and into effect it can a little bit backgrounds they're listeners. About the perspective that. That that justice coaches' brains and if that's okay sure. I'm just that starship we we were out Saturday night chuck Colson. After he got out of prison. In the Watergate related scandal it was Richard diction which present -- -- inch and a hatchet -- and his political operatives. And see he's the one started this in and we're actually peace organization. But but just social works and they in the secular world of government. In what we try to do is bring that that values. What we believe works. In GDP it. The debate. You know on criminal justice because. Unlike other areas of government you know building -- and that they were talking about human lives in human behavior. And that we want better outcome so what are your district have a little bit of background that. I felt personally I was them. And a former Republican speaker of the house in Michigan. About ten years ago in and chuckle and before you can actually I ask me Q I get involved in in helping. Bring my perspective acute instability and now so we're we're option perceived -- You know advocates from the Christian. Social conservative. In the debate to ignore it and fortunately patient. And so. You're seeing around the country changes that we're now looking out. Yeah actually in -- -- thirty years Napoli all fifty states and -- what we've come in which -- is that what what the government officials Republican Democrat. In the -- that are affected by this are realizing. The system as it is a broken and in Baghdad it's what we mean is divert limited resources. You know on the taxpayers' money. -- from doing the things that that they were the taxpayers' money to do which -- be increased public safety. I respect the victims in transform our communities. In and safer places and at the state house level when terms of the budget. -- what happens is the investments that are growing. Very quickly in in the prison in criminal justice that that isn't putting out. The numbers that -- -- -- in improving safety is at stake -- money from. You know education. Colleges building and fixing roads investment and other infrastructure work we're giving to actually do to families that -- So it's right there. In the way. What the the government priorities. Would be in what we're trying to do -- -- him. You know the solutions that people say well if there's a problem. -- can identify and quantify it. Then. What are the solutions and injustice ship. -- works with others like. You know Kevin Kane I think you're watching it at pelican. Institute and others to try to -- Define what those solutions are currently the ones that we worked. Interstate I was last year -- their couple states over in Georgia that's been able to demonstrate results. Let me ask you and everybody in this room. Kevin included. To those who might be out there listening thinking you know what rehabilitation and nice word but. It's complex it may be even more costly. And it's just easier. To put people in prison. How do you respond to that. Well. I I can respond to it by validating. Their concerns part of my life story is. You know I'm I'm like for an alcoholic K and that. I didn't hinder recovery for our addiction until after I was done this. -- In and I -- try to rehabilitation for sale so I think those are very valid concerns. And that's why I think it's important for organizations. Actually asked. People realize it. Experience and understanding of of public these problems look like it has experience and their feelings or personal -- -- -- the other side is contributing to what the solution looks like can I say what it looks like. You know it should have accountability. You know that that a lot of. The discussions -- in the previous 3040 years and say well somebody gets certificate or Hispanic completed class or they get HE ER. You know other measures like that we should assume that the problem is fixed. I can assure them that saluting the criminal likes living in the dictionary that is going to be the solution in in the only way to. We can actively drive people to. People that solutions that are available. You know whether the feet space program or or them. Making decisions that they wanna be self sufficient work -- in crime free or. Or whatever internal change in because it is an internal change making those options available to them should remain driven through. Accountability. To my conservative friends is saying but putting some interest in its -- -- and accountability. I would say quite the opposite that it's it's far harder for somebody. To pay -- society. Alec the only giant testing holding -- having nobody on. And many components from the -- In the community. Reporting to church every week consistently that the for twenty hours Tuesday. And get free health care for cable television for food given the I would say that prison camp out in the chemical. And so I think he did you also have to pay attention when you say something like that. It's just cheaper just to house them and prism. You take non violent people. And you put them in jail around violent life long criminals. The statistics show they come out more dangerous. When they win -- And it is -- societal question in the larger picture but 'cause. Not only did -- -- more dangerous. When they go in they're trained. In the criminal world. When they get out they've got a record. Which makes it difficult for them to get home. Makes it difficult for them to get a job. And then they become more frustrated after after having paid their dues has been said before. And their dangers society can escalate then so it sounds sort of nice to say that but it really doesn't pencil out. -- and just in a follow up Craig referenced some reforms in the state of Georgia recently there was an article in the paper few weeks ago. Pointing out the Georgia. Which implemented some sentencing reforms and and then in reinvesting. Money into alternatives to incarceration. Has saved twenty million dollars over the past year so doing the right thing in saving twenty million dollars pretty sensible approach to me it does. And intelligent word word read that. Rehabilitating that are starting real little bit refurbished. Remodel. -- reinvest. It says it has appeared in neglect so if there's a period of neglect him -- ring. Then at least with someone stated that decided in their community reinvestment. At least in terms of a human capital in this citizenship a sense of community. Stay with us everyone we're gonna continue our discussion on being Smart on crime. I'm Angela on WL. We're back talking about the coalition Smart on crime. Joined by Craig to -- who's present -- the justice fellowship. Which is a prison fellowship also pressed -- cough up pastor -- varying Kevin -- with the pelican -- stadiums -- and pastor David Crosby first Baptist church and Oliver Thomas. We're talking about a bunch of changes that are going to be looked at at the legislature. For our our criminal justice system one that's been. A long time coming and cents. And clearly the message from all of the -- This is going what we've done has not worked let -- look at what can work. Both on the as a taxpayer unloading on your money and it's being spent on something that's not working. And the human side so let's pick it up I think first of all press let's talk about who is this coalition who are these people in the room. Well what happened was that a few of -- -- we're very disturbed about this. Met with the business organizations. And you you spoke to one. Team appeared in past -- -- business council. And felony grade -- bitch. Who's been working on crime. Issues. For quite some time. Gathered together and and we ended up after -- speaking engagements. In listings that the business council. New Orleans ink. The seven area. Chambers of commerce. And then sometimes what's -- New Orleans doesn't work at the legislative session and so would. Oh would be the committee of 100. Which are business people all over the state of of of Louisiana. It's part of the coalition. Louisiana blueprint. Which is the business policy arm. As I understand that the committee 100 again with business representatives all over the state. Are are part of this coalition called Smart on on crime. And it for him there are groups that have been working on this for years the Baptist ministry. Group that you the pastor very -- and in the Micah groups. And so that would have been a number of religious groups that had been at the table for for quite some years so we we now have a coalition. Between business X civic. And and religious organizations. And the goal really used to. To let the legislature know that that this they can vote for sensible changes. And in the public will be behind it which spending a lot of time thanks to you Angela. And the different media outlets in the state. Who all recognize that this system is not working we need to change it. And or editorializing and on this all to create safe haven we ended up be employing. Kevin Kane. Who's here at the table with the with the pelican institute a right to senator business organization. And also the Texas policy institute which is. Really form by Newt Gingrich. Bill Bennett. Meese. The intellectual wing of the Republican Party that recognize that this is an example of government overspending not getting the benefit of it. And so the Texas group this year to testify you heard today. From the past speaker of the house and in in in in our present the senate and in Michigan and Texas will bring to the legislature. The the past session and head of the criminal justice committee. Felony Matta who will testify before the legislatures says look we made these changes in the they lost your job. Well and yet we still have. And it does it seems like a very complete. Organization representing. A broad swathe of people and yet even today we hear of legislators. Who -- brought up. These two year minimum sentence for a heroin user. Again that's in contrast what we're talking about the heroin user may have broken the law the heroin user has a problem. So we need to help the heroin user get off the Harold. Correct. I mean one of the things you see and then you don't just see this in criminal justice animal sources. Policy areas is uses. There's actually sort of a natural and even understandable tendency. For legislators. To solve problems. And so BC news story or maybe something happens and community and they think well gee maybe we need to pass a law to prevent this from happening again. And it's particularly. Commonplace in in the realm of criminal justice -- Did you hear about somebody who -- -- heroin or something bad -- lets you know we need to do is we need to make the laws tougher and then maybe it will happen again. And that's understandable what I think evidence shows if you. Beyond a certain point. Ratcheting up the punishment just doesn't make any difference. It doesn't change people's behavior. Will it does is it more courses more money and in many cases it makes the offender -- does more harm than good. Kevin makes it a very good point. We we use in the criminal. Justice system the as the default mechanism for all of our social issues. This heroin issue we already in the paper that somebody was putting something inherently it was killing -- And so the number of this you can't blame legislators by Summers saying gee this is terrible we've got to make sure you heroin. But there is a distinction. Heroin without that drug is a terrible drug and it's a drug problem. But it it is not an automatic. Killers so this must be a way to distinguish. -- someone that slip something is gonna poison somebody almost immediately and running drugs so I'm not sure we're looking at this carefully enough -- Well we are going to be looking at some laws that they do want change and we're going to be talking about that in our next government take another quick break stay with this. And again I promise you I will take your calls. I'm Angela under the -- I want everyone to stay with this we're gonna spend another whole hour talking about the need for some major changes in our criminal justice system and we've got all the right people here. Give us -- call 2601 point seven to that now let's go to the newsroom.