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Most of the dialogue regarding sentencing reform centers on nonviolent offenses. Yet it is not necessary to limit reforms to those convicted of nonviolent or minor offenses. In order to truly address our nation’s prison problem, policymakers should also substantially revise policies affecting those serving long sentences, including life with and without parole. There are important legal, moral, fiscal and public safety reasons to do so.
With 3,500 beds in a city of about 350,000 residents, Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) is already the largest per capita county jail of any major U.S. city. Sheriff Marlin Gusman, the elected official with oversight over the jail, has submitted plans for an even larger complex.