Councilman Jason Williams, the chair of the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee, is proposing the establishment of a new community advisory committee "charged with examining the allocation of city resources across the entirety of our criminal justice system to make recommendations on investments and associated policy priorities."
Protestors in New Orleans marched last week against racial injustice and in solidarity with cities across America. And as the nation mourns the loss of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Amaud Arbery, and countless others to systemic police violence against people of color, communities are looking to their leaders to make substantial change.
"The horrifying murders that we have all witnessed painfully highlight the failures of government to equitably serve and protect all of its residents," said Councilman Williams.
Williams spoke of "broad systemic reform" and the importance of the voices of community activists in the committee's future decision-making. "I envision the panel providing thoughtful, peer-review-supported guidance on the allocation of discretionary justice system funding, as well as solutions outside of law enforcement to help support community needs," he said.
As New Orleanians call for both justice and accountability, under current regulations, their voices are limited to only two minutes of public comment at council meetings. Councilman Williams noted that this is a step towards formally listening to voices that are too often unheard.
Williams hopes that the group will be comprised of "those with experience assisting historically marginalized groups to navigate the justice system and advocating for justice-system reforms to eliminate institutional racism."