New Orleans mayor-elect Mitch Landrieu’s task force on the criminal justice system heard a smorgasbord of suggestions last night, ranging from expanding vocational education and drug-abuse programs to enlisting volunteer inspectors to fight blight, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The panel is led by state Appeal Court Judge Edwin Lombard and retired Supreme Court Chief Justice Pascal Calogero.
Speakers called for expanding educational and treatment programs to fight drug abuse and said the city cannot “arrest its way” out of its crime problem by jailing thousands of defendants for possession of small amounts of drugs. Some speakers cited a need to make police officers more sensitive to the city’s varied ethnic and cultural communities, and others said the key is providing positive role models and mentors for young black males, who make up the bulk of the city’s prison population. City Councilwoman Cynthia Willard-Lewis said the city needs a place to send students who are expelled from alternative schools and suggested creating a military-style boot camp.