Louisiana prisons need to be reformed


Zoe Sissac, Opinion Editor

Innocent until proven guilty—this common phrase is not limited to reruns of “Law and Order” or criminal interrogations. It acts as the foundation upon which the United States’ justice system was built. Unfortunately, Louisiana prisons and jails have forgotten the importance of the presumption of innocence. Last week, the Department of Justice reported that the Louisiana Department of Safety and Corrections held thousands of inmates past their release date. According to CBS, officials added an extra 90 days to over 24% of the prisoners’ sentences. The state’s refusal to release inmates on time blatantly violates the Constitution and everything the U.S. represents. The 14th Amendment guarantees each citizen of the U.S. equal protection under the Constitution. Imprisoned or free, the amendment does not pick and choose whose rights to protect, and Louisiana should not either. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, who led the Department of Justice’s investigation, agreed that state officials disregarded the rights of U.S. citizens. “The Constitution guarantees that people incarcerated in jails
and prisons may not be detained beyond their release dates.” Clarke said, “It is the fundamental duty of the state to ensure that all people in
its custody are released on time.” The Department of Justice’s report proved that Louisiana’s justice system needs to be reformed. New policies and guidelines could be instituted to prevent the improper detention of prisoners. Creating clear sentencing guidelines and restructuring parole hearings are clear solutions that can transform the justice system. Implementing holding centers would ensure inmates do not stay imprisoned
longer than necessary. By rebuilding the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, the rights of U.S. citizens would be ensured and protected—as stated in the 14th Amendment. Inmates have served their time. Now they deserve to have a life outside of a cell.