Gov. Edwards praises criminal justice reforms passed in 2017 at Southern University Law Center symposium

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Governor John Bel Edwards spoke at a symposium on the justice system in Louisiana and minorities Thursday at the Southern University Law Center.

The symposium was titled "The Over-criminalization of Minorities" and featured a panel of minority leaders.

The panel featured U.S. Congressman Cedric Richmond, U.S. Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-3) Donald Cravins, Jr. of the National Urban League, Alanah Odoms Hebert, Deputy General Counsel of the Louisiana Supreme Court, Carlton J. Miller of the lobbying group FWD, and Bakari Sellers, a CNN Political Commentator.

During his speech, Gov. Edwards praised the criminal justice reforms that were passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2017.

Edwards said overcriminalization of minorities wasn't the specific approach to sponsoring the reforms but said he wanted lower the total amount of people incarcerated in Louisiana, which holds the highest incarceration rate in the nation.

"We just knew that we were looking up too many people for too long. And we also know that caught up in that, are too many African Americans, particularly African American males. So, if we reform successfully our criminal justice system we will absolutely have a tremendous impact on the overcriminalization of minorities."

Gov. Edwards alluded to the attendees of the panel that he would be making a "positive" announcement about Louisiana's incarceration rate but didn't divulge further details.

"We're not going to be number one (in incarnation rates) much longer," he said.

After Edwards spoke, panelists discussed contributing factors in the over-criminalization of minorities as well as initiatives to end mass incarcerations and sentencing reforms.

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