Civil Asset Forfeiture
Current law allows law enforcement to seize and keep private property without charging or even a conviction. Civil asset forfeiture undermines due process, turning presumption of innocence upside down. Abolishing civil asset forfeiture in Louisiana and replacing it with criminal forfeiture where police can seize property associated with a crime but must convict the individual to keep it would make for a safer and more just Louisiana.
Mens Rea Reform
“Mens rea” is Latin for “guilty mind” and refers to the legal concept that in judging guilt, a person’s criminal intent should matter alongside the act committed. There are hundreds of activities we don’t associate with the criminal justice system that carry criminal penalties in Louisiana, some incredibly mundane, such as riding a bike with no hands on the handlebars. Louisiana’s criminal code shouldn’t contain duplicative, obsolete, unclear, or unnecessary crimes that trap people in a cycle of incarceration while failing to make our communities any better off.
Pretrial is the time period from when a person first comes in contact with law enforcement (i.e. a traffic stop) to when any resulting charges are resolved through dismissal, plea, or trial. Oftentimes, defendants are held in jail simply because they can’t afford to pay. This drives up the likelihood of them losing their jobs, finding themselves in deeper crisis, and committing future crimes – all before having the chance to prove their innocence. Unless there is evidence that a defendant is a risk to skip their trial or a danger to others, they should not be detained pre-trial.