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Monday, March 11th, 2024

Baton Rouge, Louisiana


     The Louisiana legislature just finished the special session on crime spending several million dollars to come up with more ways to reduce the violence that continues to plague the Bayou state. Their solution seems to be to stick it to the convicts currently serving time, but ignoring the growing wave of juvenile crime that continues to spread throughout both big cities and rural areas alike.

     Since Louisiana has the distinction of having the nation’s highest incarceration rate, the legislature’s new laws send a message that any chance of parole is all but abolished, and having long sentences generally will mean the prisoners will serve out their life in the prison geriatric ward. These older convicts, who hope to spend their final years being looked after by family members, are often filled with prostate problems, dementia, and other diseases that barely let them get along day in and day out. Nonviolent convicts should have the chance with good behavior to one day be paroled.

     Lengthening prison sentences and doing away with options for parole often do little to protect the public. It’s the young thugs that seem to be doing all the carjacking, committing armed robberies, and even murder; all while they’re in their teens. Older prisoners in their 70s or 80s are like old over the hill athletes. They are generally worn out and just don’t have the ability to perform or be dangerous anymore. 

     Here are just a few of the suggestions that should have been Implemented into law. First of all, implement a statewide curfew. Why on earth would anyone be supportive of a 13 or 14-year-old being on the streets at 4 o’clock in the morning. Unless the young person is traveling for a job, get them off the streets by midnight, particularly during the week.

     Instead of sending Louisiana National Guard members to the Texas border, use them to back up law-enforcement here at home. Particularly in the New Orleans French Quarter, or at any special large events that take place throughout the state. I was working in New Orleans doing a syndicated radio program following Hurricane Katrina. I was often in the French quarter at night, and there were National guardsmen patrolling the area. I never felt more safe, and would often high five the soldiers, and buy their meal if they were in the same restaurant as me. New York has just placed national guardsmen in subways. So why can’t guardsmen be used to stop some of the rampant crime in Louisiana?

     The legislature should have provided funds to allow municipalities to ask for grants in their fight against crime. A number of cities across the country are allowing police departments to tap in to cameras mounted outside homes in high crime neighborhoods. A police department can monitor suspicious activity by using private cameras.  The state is spending millions of dollars to re-roof private residences. Why not spend a couple of hundred dollars per home in high crime areas so that a camera system can observe neighborhoods in towns and cities across the state.

     Let me say this. I’m a big “keep the government from snooping in my business” guy. But cameras are on public utility poles and private businesses all over the state. If you are going to have them, put them to use in profiling these younger criminals and teenage thugs. If real estate agents can use drones to take pictures of my house and Amazon can snap pictures and deliver by drone, put drones to use in heavy crime areas after dark.

     Numerous studies have shown that if you light up neighborhoods where there is a concentration of crimes, break-ins and carjackings in those areas take a drop. The legislature could offer grants to municipalities to put stronger lighting systems in such locations. And I haven’t even begun to list programs like midnight, basketball, and other weekend activities to keep these kids off the street. There is a whole host of ideas being put in place for crime prevention across the country. Where are the fresh ideas been put forth by our legislature instead of just rehashing older programs? Thirteen and fourteen-year-old kids are carjacking, committing armed robberies and even murder. It’s time we crack down on these young offenders.

     The message is simple to our legislators. Time to get creative about finding solutions to the outrageous rate of crime here in Louisiana.

Peace and Justice

Jim Brown

Jim Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com. You can also listen to his weekly podcast at www.datelinelouisiana.com.




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