President Barack Obama is visiting Louisiana Tuesday in support of issues he highlighted in his final State of the Union Address. One area with bipartisan support for change is in criminal justice reform – an issue he recently reviewed at the White House with a former New Orleans police chief.
Former Police Superintendent Ronal Serpas is teaching at Loyola University, as well as being co-chair of a national group called Law Enforcement Leaders to Reduce Crime and Incarceration. He says more than 150 local, state and federal law enforcement officials are pushing for shorter minimum sentences, treatment for addiction and mental illness, and a stronger focus on locking up violent criminals.
“We believe that you can reduce crime and incarceration at the same time," he said.
Serpas says they have White House support.
“We announced our program on October 21 at the National Press Club -- the biggest police departments in the country were represented, many sized departments, small departments, prosecutors from all over the country," he said. "And the next day we went to the White House and I was able to represent our group as the co-chair to the president, and then the president spent two hours talking with our group about the issues of criminal justice reform.”
Serpas says the criminal justice system is decades overdue for adjustments.