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How do you bankrupt a brimming system of incarceration that is perversely incentivized to grow? According to New Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, “you have to go to the source, and whether the source is education or whether it’s legislation, you really have to go to the source.” Gusman provided an upstream suggestion at the Loyola University New Orleans’ event, Louisiana Incarcerated: An Evening with Cindy Chang on June 26, 2012. However, many of the panelists pointed specifically to job training and employment as essential parts of the solution.
The event was centered around an acclaimed 8-part Times-Picayune series titled “Louisiana Incarcerated,” by reporter Cindy Chang. For the series, Chang talked with the formerly incarcerated and criminal justice reformers to get a complete story of the juvenile and criminal justice systems. The town hall styled symposium provided opportunities for panelists to offer their thoughts on the sources of Louisiana’s incarceration problems as well as potential solutions.
Concurring with Gusman’s perspective of root causes, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana Jim Letten said, “the most important part of our jobs is education and prevention. I wouldn’t have told you that 13 years ago.” Letten iterated what several panelists expressed during the panel sessions, which took place over the course of two hours.
On March 22nd, 2012, The Lens welcomed five panelists and over 100 attendees to its third salon at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center, which focused on the status of the juvenile justice system in the New Orleans area.
Panelists were queried by the moderator on issues surrounding the new French Quarter youth curfew, LGBTQ youth issues in juvenile facilities, the rebuilding of the Youth Studies Center, the school to prison pipeline, and the new Orleans Parish Prison. Audience members were then invited to pose their own questions to the panel.