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Community Turns Out for Symposium on Criminal Sentencing Reform

Leaders of the criminal justice system, the state and local legal community, along with concerned community members, engaged in a day-long discussion on criminal sentencing reform during the 2016 Louisiana Law Review’s symposium held on Friday, January 22, 2016.  Entitled, Throw Away the Key: Criminal Sentencing Reform in the 21st Century, the symposium featured experts and legal scholars from across the nation. The symposium was co-sponsored by the Law Center’s Louisiana Law Review and the Pugh Institute for Justice, with support from the Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation.  Organizers dedicated the symposium to Cheney C. Joseph, Jr., former LSU Law Professor and Interim Dean, who passed away in December.

Noting that the United States is the world’s leader in incarceration, Kenneth Polite, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana, provided opening remarks for the symposium. He noted that bi-partisan support has emerged along the topic of reform of the federal criminal justice system, saying, “There has been a sea change in how we are approaching issues of mass incarceration.”

Other speakers included Kenya Smith, Associate Professor from the Arizona Summit Law School who spoke on Organizational Sentencing Guidelines; and, Katherine Hunt Federle, Professor from Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, addressed the issue of Juvenile Sentencing Practices.

The first panel included a Louisiana Practitioner’s Roundtable featuring the Hon. Scott Crichton (’89), Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of LA as moderator; Lauren Anderson (’13), Orleans Public Defenders Office; Bernie Boudreaux (’61), Jones, Swanson, Huddell & Garrison LLC; the Hon. John E. Conery, LA Third Circuit Court of Appeal; Hilar Moore, EBR District Attorney; and Michael Walsh (’83), Taylor, Porter, Brooks & Phillips LLP.

Historical Perspectives on U.S. Sentencing was discussed in a panel featuring Paul Finkelman, Professor of Law at Albany Law School; Peter Wallenstein, Professor of History at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University; and moderator Ray Diamond, Associate Dean at the LSU Law Center.

The final panel of the day focused on Philosophical and Rational Considerations, and was moderated by Ken Levy, LSU Law Professor of Law.  The panel featured Russell Christopher, Professor of Law at The University of Tulsa, and Tamara Lawson, Professor of Law at the St. Thomas University.

The day was spent in understanding the history behind the current Louisiana state and federal guidelines for sentencing and examining what those system have achieved.  Panelists and speakers, together with the audience, explored new and innovative perspectives on sentencing practices.

Congratulations to the students and advisors of the Louisiana Law Review and the Pugh Institute for hosting of such a successful symposium.