Commentary: Pass criminal justice reform

End Louisiana's dubious status as the world's leading jailer
Of all the "bad" rankings for Louisiana, one stands out on a global scale: Our state has the highest rate of incarceration (816 per 100,000 residents, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics) in the world's most jail-happy nation. That makes Louisiana the world's incarceration leader.

Commentary: It didn't have to come to this

We need a clear path forward and we need it now
The ongoing tensions surrounding the fate of four Confederate-era monuments in New Orleans recently reached the national stage — and the local boiling point. On May 7, the last day of tourist-heavy Jazz Fest, a rowdy group of out-of-town white supremacists hijacked a demonstration by local monument supporters at Lee Circle.

Commentary: Remembering Deborah 'Big Red' Cotton

Fearless, fierce, compassionate, and taken far too soon
  "With each second line that rolled down Ursulines Avenue, New Orleans lured me from my dark brooding funk and tossed me into the fire of dancing Black folks and brass instruments bobbing down the street, burning, sweating, marching from one end of town to the other. This went on for months until one day, between the parades and sessions with my shrink and onset of Spring, I began to feel alive again.

Commentary: Abolish the death penalty

Death penalty opponents raise moral and fiscal arguments, and convincingly so
Nineteen states and the District of Columbia have abolished the death penalty. If some state lawmakers have their way, Louisiana will become the 20th state — but they face strong opposition.

Commentary: Bipartisan agreement on criminal justice reform

Locking up non-violent offenders is not tough on crime. It's tough on taxpayers
There are few truly bipartisan issues in Louisiana, but the need for criminal justice reform is one of them. By any metric of any study, America is the most lock-'em-up nation in the world, and Louisiana is the most lock-'em-up state.

Commentary: Putting "sanctuary cities" on ICE

The latest attempt to turn "sanctuary" cities into a political cudgel backfires
Last week, President Donald Trump's Department of Homeland Security put the brakes on its three-week-old policy of issuing weekly reports calling out so-called "sanctuary cities" — after municipalities on the lists and immigration advocates criticized the data involved. It was the latest attempt to turn "sanctuary cities" into a political cudgel.

Commentary: Legislative forecast? More gridlock

State lawmakers return to Baton Rouge this week for an annual session that by law must focus mostly but not exclusively on fiscal matters. This year's session, like most in recent memory, seems destined to be marked by partisan squabbles over the state's taxing and spending policies.

Commentary: Selling out our privacy

Your internet provider can track, compile and sell your browsing history
While the chatter in Washington D.C. last week focused on the failed GOP health care plan to "repeal and replace" the Affordable Care Act, a much quieter — but equally egregious — repeal-and-replace bill moved through the U.S. Senate along party lines. By a 50-48 vote, Senate Republicans overturned internet privacy laws adopted by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the last days of President Barack Obama's administration.

Commentary: A busy political season

It's entirely possible the next mayor's name hasn't even been mentioned yet
It's entirely possible that the next mayor's name hasn't even been mentioned yet. Election season is never far away in New Orleans.

Commentary: On things that "suck"

Republican health care plan could increase the number of uninsured Americans by 14 million
"I don't mean any disrespect, but Obamacare sucks," said U.S. Sen. John Neely Kennedy last fall, back when he was making folksy commercials to promote his Senate candidacy. Of course, not having health insurance sucks, too.

Commentary: Moving forward, mostly

Forward New Orleans finds room for improvement
Last week, a coalition of local groups known as Forward New Orleans (FNO) released its latest progress report on 11 public policy initiatives, with the aim of gauging how well city officials have kept their campaign promises since their elections in 2014. The results were mostly positive, reflecting both how far the city has come since the 2010 municipal elections and how far we still have to go.

Commentary: Carnival's choose your own adventure

Mardi Gras, as always, is what you make of it
Mardi Gras 2017 likely will be remembered for two things: the unseasonably warm weather, which made watching parades and costuming a comfortable (if humid) affair; and a traffic-related tragedy on the Endymion parade route, which occurred even as city officials beefed up French Quarter security — in part to prevent such an incident on pedestrian-packed Bourbon Street.   First, the weather.

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