Louisianans for Responsible Reform
For Immediate Release
Thursday, March 20, 2014
The Louisiana District Attorneys Association's decision to oppose the bi-partisan SB323 warrants a clear explanation, the executive director of Louisianans for Responsible Reform said today.
"Exactly why does the LDAA oppose this bi-partisan legislation?" said Brian Welsh, of LRR. "Experts - including some politicians - with years of experience in our criminal justice system as lawyers, prosecutors and judges, are supporting this effort. Recent polls show a majority of Louisianans support the elimination of harsh penalties for simple marijuana possession. Blueprint Louisiana, the Pelican Policy Institute, numerous clergy and plenty of regular citizens understand the need to do something about these unjust and draconian sentences. It is really on the LDAA to explain what all the rest of us are missing."
Welsh said Louisiana taxpayers currently pay $20 million a year to prosecute and incarcerate people convicted of simple possession of marijuana - a non-violent offense that usually amounts to the "convict" having or using a single joint.
"It's time for the LDAA to spell out exactly why the taxpayers of our state should pay $20 million a year to prosecute and incarcerate people who choose marijuana over a drive-through daiquiri. It is also incumbent on the LDAA to explain how stripping a mother or father away from her or his family and putting them in jail for 20 years for smoking a joint helps protect our families, our communities and our state. Finally, the LDAA needs to explain just how giving someone a felony criminal record and ruining his or her chances of getting a good job is helpful to our state's economy."
Welsh pointed out that Mississippi reformed its marijuana sentencing laws a decade ago and has seen not only reduced costs but reduced marijuana use among young people.
"When you're 10 years behind Mississippi in passing meaningful reforms, it's bad enough," he said. "But when you're standing against a bipartisan bill backed by a unified coalition of your state's own residents, then it is your obligation to thoroughly explain exactly why you are right and everyone else is wrong."