We can create a brighter future for Louisiana.

In November of 2017 Louisiana passed a series of landmark criminal justice reform bills. The ink on these reforms was barely dry before some critics began denouncing the reforms as failures, despite the fact that they had not even been fully implemented yet. Now is not the time to jump ship, but rather stay the course, to ensure these reforms are implemented well, and to join together to make Louisiana a better, safer state.

Our Mission

Smart on Crime is a coalition of Louisiana business leaders and conservative organizations, including Right On Crime Louisiana, advocating for data-driven and fiscally sound criminal justice policies in Louisiana.

The Facts

  • Louisiana was America’s prison capital

    With almost 40,000 people behind bars, the Pelican State had the highest incarceration rate in the United States. The state has seen a dramatic increase in its prison population over the past twenty years, in part because of mandatory minimum sentencing laws that results in a growing number of nonviolent offenders serving long prison terms without benefit of parole.

    Is Louisiana an outlier in its use of “life without parole” sentences? View our handout.
    Are Louisiana’s longest prison terms out of step with other Southern states? Read our fact sheet.

  • The current system has created high recidivism rates

    Louisiana’s criminal justice system imposes harsh sentences on drug and property offenders while failing to focus on rehabilitation and job training. As a result, many of the ex-offenders re-entering society aren’t ready to tackle the new jobs being created in Louisiana and land back in prison. With so many behind bars, our labor shortage problem has been exacerbated.

  • Nearby states are leading by example

    Legislators around the country have begun takings steps to reduce prison populations without compromising public safety. Notably, conservative states like Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi have taken steps to steer nonviolent offenders away from prison, emphasize rehabilitation over jail time, and reduce penalties for many drug and property crimes. The Smart on Crime campaign seeks to apply relevant lessons from other states to Louisiana.

  • Criminal justice reform goes beyond bipartisan politics

    Efforts similar to Smart on Crime have received bipartisan support across the nation. The business community is playing an increasingly important role in this trend, and a statewide consortium of business, religious, and civic organizations are committed to developing a more just and sustainable criminal justice system.

  • The Smart on Crime approach is both fiscally and socially responsible for Louisiana

    Our state’s massive prison population is costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars each year, not to mention the mounting social costs that cannot be calculated. Reforms that lead to fewer nonviolent offenders being incarcerated will save the state millions of dollars, improve public safety, and, if a portion of that savings is invested in alternatives to incarceration, increase the likelihood that ex-offenders can successfully rejoin society.

In Memorium

Kevin Kane

Remembering Kevin Kane

Kevin's leadership on Smart on Crime Louisiana to advance criminal justice reform will benefit countless families for decades to come.

Read about the "New Orleans free market hero"

What Others Are Saying

  • “During my leadership as governor, Texas shut down three prisons, and we saved taxpayers $2 billion. When I left office, Texas had the lowest crime rate in our state since 1968.”

    — Rick Perry, former Governor of Texas

  • “The evidence shows that sensible reforms allow states to reduce incarceration rates, save money and preserve public safety.”

    — Pres Kabacoff, CEO, HRI Properties

  • “As a former law enforcement officer, I have no tolerance for career criminals or violent offenders, and this [criminal justice reform bill] will allow Mississippi the resources to hold these offenders accountable.”

    — Phil Bryant, Governor of Mississippi

  • “We can continue to build prisons and allow corrections to consume an ever-increasing proportion of taxpayers’ dollars. The alternative is to follow the path blazed by almost two dozen states across the country.”

    — Dennis Daugaard, Governor of South Dakota

  • “[Utah’s criminal justice reform bill] will establish better treatment resources and alternatives for nonviolent offenders, ensuring our citizens get the best possible return on their tax dollars.”

    — Gary Herbert, Governor of Utah

  • “The business community well understands that justice and prosperity require clear, fair, and predictable law that is uniformly applied to all.”

    — Jay Lapeyre, President, Laitram, LLC

  • “It is time for Louisiana policymakers to embrace an approach to criminal justice that is saving money and improving public safety in states like Texas, Georgia, and Mississippi.”

    — Kevin Kane, President, Pelican Institute for Public Policy

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