‘Strange bedfellows’ push incarceration limits

“Get tough on crime” was the mantra for many lawmakers nationwide in the past 25 years. And policymakers in Louisiana took it to heart — perhaps more so than anywhere else.

Without question, Louisiana leads the country in the percentage of its residents imprisoned, with a rate twice as high as the national average. In fact, the state’s figures vie for highest in the world, inviting comparisons with countries such as North Korea.

An unusual new coalition — leftist groups, prominent business leaders, a right-wing think tank and the American Civil Liberties Union — is trying to end this distinction. The coalition will get its first crack at reducing Louisiana’s incarceration rate during the three-month legislative session that began Monday.

This story was originally published by The Lens, an independent, nonprofit newsroom serving New Orleans.

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