The League of Women Voters was a prominent group in the United States from the sixties and through the nineties. The nationwide group had many roles to play and numerous progressive accomplishments including women’s suffrage. After distinguishing themselves in Jefferson Parish, the League decided to take on and suggest reform to the Louisiana Corrections System. The League wrote up a 120-page study about corrections problems, while specifically focusing on alternative punishments. The study concludes that there is a plethora of problems in the Louisiana prison system from being overcrowded, in violation of safety regulations, and simply not worth taxpayer’s money to run such an ineffective system. The League’s proposal was for alternative punishment for inmates who were not convicted felons, but for progressive programs other than jail to be an option for other inmates as an alternative to the traditional parole and work release.
After the introduction the study continues with extremely well annotated and detailed information discussing the history of effective prison systems in the United States. An example provided is the Quakers of Pennsylvania. Their penal system was then adopted and manipulated which created the more commonplace method of a prison system. At that time, it was seen that prisons could be suitable for rehabilitation, but what time has shown is that is simply not the case. After this broad overview the League then writes about the history of the penal system in Louisiana and how much of a disaster it really is, but said elegant and politely. After schooling the state on its poor management of prisons and rehabilitation of inmates, the League provides alternatives and cases from other prison complexes, showing the vast improvements of other places around the country in comparison to Louisiana.
While the penal system of Louisiana is still well renowned for its corruption and ineffectiveness, the League of Women Voters was willing to step up to the challenge of reform. Organizing in the 1980’s to change such a rugged system as the Louisiana Corrections System shows the tenacity and dedication this group. The League was not just an organization for women to have positions and say in such matters, but to help change and progress American society as a whole.
This information is from the League of Women Voters collection, which is currently being processed at Loyola University New Orleans in the Special Collections & Archives by students.
Blog Post by Oliver Marston, a Special Collections intern.
Found in the Archives is a recurring series of crazy cool stuff found in the Monroe Library’s Special Collections & Archives.