Poor Versus Rich

Updated: Mar 29, 2019



For thousands of years people have had many conflicts about finance. In Louisiana current public issues have been created by many laws and regulations that divide the entire nation into classes, enabling wealthier people to profit off of labor from lower income workers (much of which is a result of racist policies continuing a history of white privilege). In December 2017, Los Angeles Times disclosed how policy choices worsen inequality including tax cuts to benefit the wealthy by eliminating estate taxes and lowering taxes for "pass-through" businesses. Such constructs extend directly into our criminal justice system. As reported on by community outlets (such as American Association of Geographers in February 2018, Washington Post in October 2017, and American Civil Liberties Union in June 2017), current state policy in action is providing free labor to the sheriff's department. It has nothing to do with public safety, redemption, restoration, or self-improvement. Saving money is valued more than others' lives. More than 800 out of every 100,000 state residents are incarcerated. The ratio of African Americans, who make up only 32% of Louisiana's population, outnumber whites in prison by an evaluation of 2:1. These are just Louisiana state statistics. Research by the Equal Justice Initiative shows that the U.S. only has 5% of the world's population but nearly 25% of its prisoners. What about progress?

Prison Legal News on motivation to keep people incarcerated, March 2017:

  • ​“Sheriffs build prisons, and they make money off of those prisons by housing state prisoners, which is good, it can do more for its citizens, it creates jobs, but because those prisons need to make a profit, we have to put more people in there," stated Paul Carmouche, who served as a Caddo Parish District Attorney for 30 years before becoming a defense attorney.

  • “The amount of money that the state spends to keep people in jail is significant. The debate is, well, it’s worth it because it keeps us all safe," said career defense attorney Peter Flowers. "Well, I understand that, and I think to some, when it does keep us all safe, that’s a good thing. But what happened is there’s a lot of people being kept in jail that pose no danger to us and the reason for that, in my mind, it’s just easier that way.”​

Why is mass incarceration getting worse if more light is being shed on police brutality and unethical arrests? The descendants of the savages that led the Trail of Tears do not want to share anything from the resources that were stolen and given to them with anyone else because they do not know how to work or give, only take and blame. Today someone can be arrested in America simply for not being born here. Because daring to exist in a world those in power know they have corrupted makes being a human incriminating.

Have a heart! Help fight mass incarceration... Orleans Public Defenders (OPD) fights to make a difference in their clients’ lives in the courtroom and beyond and creates meaningful reform for a fair and just criminal justice system. Approximately 50 full-time attorneys, court support, client service specialists, social workers, investigators, and more provide meaningful representation to OPD's clients and is the benchmark for indigent defense in Louisiana. Three ways OPD directly works on behalf of the community:

  1. Every client is represented by a dedicated team: attorney, investigator, client advocate, social worker, and court support administrator. Attorneys and investigators work tirelessly to build the best possible defense for each individual client. Attorneys zealously litigate pretrial issues such as evidence suppression, speedy trial, double jeopardy, and Brady violations, plus try dozens of cases a year.

  2. Social workers and client advocates recommend alternatives to incarceration as well as connect clients to community-based social services, treatment programs, job and housing placement. They also work for language access, medical advocacy, client safety and eligibility for specialty courts, re-entry and jail programming.

  3. Special Litigation attorneys effect reform through impact litigation and policy advocacy on behalf of OPD and their clients in state and federal district courts, courts of appeal, Louisiana and U.S. Supreme Courts, and the judiciary committees of the Louisiana legislature.

How can people make a difference? Spread the word, show up, donate. Speak up for those incarcerated who cannot speak up for themselves by not letting those in power forget they are profiting off of modern slavery. Reach out to senators and representatives. Sign petitions. Support community events to fight for policy changes. $1 per ticket sold from Deaf Child events are donated to Orleans Public Defenders. Donate additional funds (link below). If every person’s ability to give to others and have enough for themselves was like a wishing well, just a cup from a big deep pool could replenish what needs taking care of for all.

Links:

Donate to Orleans Public Defenders

American Civil Liberties Union on Louisiana Prisoners

LA Times on Inequality

American Association of Geographers: Carceral State

The Washington Post on Working Prisoners

Equal Justice Initiative

NPR on Supreme Court Immigration Ruling

NPR on ACLU Detained Children Abuse Report

About Orleans Public Defenders

Free Your Art