The Case to End The Habitual Offender Law

Many of my readers are familiar with the term “ Habitual Offender”. Unfortunately for far too many of us the terminology hits very close to home.

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Though the phrase is the combination of two separate words that find their origin in 14th Century English language, the marriage of these two words took on a whole new life when President William “Bill" Jefferson Clinton signed the 1994 Crime Bill into law.


Though the marriage of the words “Habitual" and “Offender" may not have received a lot of fanfare from well wishers, the offspring of that union have surely proven to be noteworthy changers of history. This marriage has produced offspring like “Mass Incarceration” and “Family Disintegration”. From this union entire African American neighborhoods and communities have felt stagnant, if not backwards, economic growth because the men in those communities have been sentenced to crushing exorbitant prison sentences.


Now, in fairness, that was not the foreseen outcome of the 1994 Crime Bill when it was signed into law. Honestly, at the time the bill was stamped into law, the country was caught up in the throes of excessive and numerous acts of violent crime. In its purist form, the Crime Bill was intended to stem the tidal wave of criminal activity which seemed to be taking America by storm. Never in his wildest dreams did President Clinton foresee the future of the Bill playing out in communities of color as it has in the 26 years since its birth. During one of President Barack Obama's stomps across the country to effect a change in the Federal Crime Bill, then former President Clinton joined him and issued an impassioned apology before the NAACP for his role in signing into law an instrument which played so well into the hands of prejudice, hateful men.


After 26 years of living under such an oppressive law and after a 26 year build up that has our beloved State of Louisiana topping the worldwide list of highest incarceration rates and populations, it is time for likeminded men and women to dismantle such a law. It is what this Union, this Country, this America was founded upon. Its in our organizing declaration that we do such…


“…But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and provide new Guards for their future security…” The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776


Attorney Joel G. Porter, Defense Attorney and lead Counsel at Porter & Porter wishes to defend the basic, God-given rights of the citizens of Baton Rouge and the State at large by ascending to the position of Judge, Division K, 19th JDC. As a 19th JDC Judge, Counselor Joel G. Porter, through what has become known as The Porter Plan, will support and promote legislative changes designed to address (1).Unfairness in criminal sentencing (2). Eliminate all bails for nonviolent offenders, (3). Completely eradicate the Habitual Offender statute in Louisiana, and (4). Effectively dismantle the accepted practice of publicly naming someone a suspect and destroying their life without having substantial evidence to do so. These are just a few of the reforms and legislative initiatives the Porter Plan will address.


For nearly 30 years in the practice of Law, Porter has fought for civil rights, Women’s rights, and the rights of those acutely affected by Police Brutality. Porter has successfully defended hundreds cases. If elected the next Division K Judge, Porter assures the voter that access to fairness in rulings and in sentencing will be the hallmark of his tenure on the bench.


The Porter candidacy is firmly rooted in an understanding that all people, regardless of race, creed, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation should be treated fairly and equitably in our Criminal Justice System. As such Porter has dedicated his life in the civil rights struggle for justice and equality in society because “Your Life Truly Does Matter!”

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