VOTE members came out in droves at the Felony Classification Task Force meetings. The result? They officially recommended that the Legislature create a felony class system that will categorize existing crimes and provide sentencing guidelines for judges to follow! We have many more events like this coming up. Join us!
It’s the most joyous time of the year at the VOTE office, not only because of Mardi Gras but because we’re gaining serious momentum in local and state criminal justice reform.
Last week, the Louisiana Felony Classification Task Force officially recommended that the Legislature create a felony class system to categorize existing crimes and provide corresponding sentencing guidelines for judges to follow. Members of the Task Force made their decision in response to a plethora of powerful testimonies from formerly incarcerated people, their loved ones and allies. The full report includes four specific recommendations, which include:
While we still have work to do in order to get the recommended legislation authored and passed, this victory is a major step in the right direction for our members and those most impacted by the system. If you want to be part of next steps, sign up to join us at future actions.
Our lawsuit--VOTE v. Louisiana--is also swiftly moving forward. On February 27, the judges will hear oral arguments from both sides, and we are aiming for a big turnout of supporters on that day. The hearing will be held at the LSU Law School. Join us.
“The court needs to feel the gravity of this case, and the importance of voting rights as the cornerstone of a free democracy,” says Bruce Reilly, Deputy Director. “The best way to do that is showing the collective will of the people.”
If we win this case, over 70,000 Louisianans under community supervision will be able to vote again. We will send a strong message throughout the state and nation that outdated laws based on institutional racism are unacceptable.
“The remnants of slavery need to go,” says Reilly. “This law impacts all people, Black and white, by watering down our democracy and telling those of us that are formerly incarcerated that we are unwelcome and unwanted. Our case is as part of a long legacy of historic civil rights struggles. The time to end 150-year-old second-class citizenship is now.”
We need the judges to see that this is a movement fueled by people power. Our goal is to have more than 100 people show up on the 27th. RSVP now.
Can’t make it that day? As the 2018 Legislative session approaches, we will have many opportunities to attend events that will push to restore the rights of formerly incarcerated people. On March 2, we will head to Southern University for a statewide summit on upcoming legislative activities, and on March 27 we will replicate last year’s lively Lobby Day at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge. Sign up to be at some or all of these events.