The ACLU of Louisiana in cooperation with the Pelican Institute for Public Policy is hosting Safe and Fair Louisiana: A Forum on Criminal Justice Reform in Lafayette tonight.

ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director, Marjorie Esman visited 'Mornings With Ken and Bernie' today and stressed the need for sentencing reform in Louisiana.  According to Esman,

It's a hugely important topic and something everybody in Louisiana needs to think about because, a lot of people know by now, but not everybody does, that we incarcerate more of our own people per capita than any other place in the world.  It's not because Louisiana people are worse than anybody else in the world, I absolutely refuse to believe that.  What is does mean is that our laws are harsher then anybody else.

We noted a recent article that stated Sweden is closing prisons due to fewer people being sentenced while Louisiana's incarceration rate continues to climb.  To that Esman replied,

It's nice that you are comparing us to Sweden but we don't have to go that far because the state of Texas, which has enacted some of the reforms that we've been advocating and we're going to talk about this evening is closing prisons from having enacting some of the reforms that have to do with, and it may sound counter intuitive but it really isn't, decreasing sentences, decriminalizing some  non-violent offenses.  What that actually does is make communities safer.

When asked to illustrate inappropriate sentences being served in Louisiana Esman said,

Non-violent things like drug possession or minor disturbing the peace charges can land people in prison for decades.

Safe and Fair Louisiana: A Forum on Criminal Justice Reform, will take place tonight November 13th, 2013, 6 p.m., at South Louisiana Community College in the Devalcourt Building, 320 Devalcourt St., room D157. The event is free and the public is encouraged to attend and offer their concerns and suggestions.

Listen to the interview: