New Orleans ColorOfChange members just helped deliver a monumental victory for their city's future, winning a fight to drastically reduce the size of Orleans Parish Prison.
The victory came after ColorOfChange members, in conjunction with the Juvenile Justice Project of Louisiana, stopped a proposed expansion of the prison in November. Then, just this week, more than 300 New Orleans ColorOfChange members urged the City Council to limit the new prison to 1,438 beds - less than 1/3 the size of the proposed expansion. Yesterday, the City Council voted unanimously to do so.
The significance of this cannot be overstated. New Orleans has been notorious for locking up a higher percentage of its adult population than any other large city in the nation. Stories abounded of men and women going to jail for offenses that routinely only merit tickets in other cities. The frequent arrests were spurred on by the jail's funding structure, which created a perverse incentive to keep the jail as full as possible.
Yesterday's vote marks a major step in reforming New Orleans' criminal justice system. Instead of paying for an expensive, oversized jail, city leaders will be able and encouraged to allocate increasingly scarce city resources to infrastructure that will benefit the whole community.
This is a major win for New Orleans, and it couldn't have happened without dedicated activists like you speaking up.
Thanks and Peace,
James, Gabriel, William, Dani, Matt, Natasha, and the rest of the ColorOfChange.org team
-February 4th, 2011