Caddo voters say ‘no’ to new property tax that would have funded criminal and juvenile justice reforms
CADDO PARISH, La. (KSLA) - On Saturday, Oct. 14, voters in Caddo Parish voted “no” on a new millage that would’ve funded various crime initiatives in the parish, particularly pertaining to juvenile criminal justice reform.
The proposition asks voters to approve a new property tax that’s aimed at juvenile criminal justice, among other things.
“The criminal justice millage that we proposed is funding for our criminal justice system, which is the part of the government that contains efforts for crime prevention and also funds our court system and our detention systems,” said John-Paul Young, District 4 Caddo Commissioner said.
The ballot proposition is for a 3.5 mills increase on your property tax. For example, if you own a $200,000 home, you could expect to see an increase of $44 per year in parish taxes.
“We’re asking the public to consider a new millage because our juvenile crime rate is especially high, and we know we need to do more to prevent it,” Young said.
According to the commissioner, the juvenile criminal justice millage is funded through a tax from the year 1957. It hasn’t been updated since then.
“Mental health programing, juvenile services, work force development [are needed] to teach people trades, so they’ll have something to do [rather] than sell drugs and defend their territory with guns. Those are all listed in the millage,” he explained.
Caddo Sheriff Steve Prator has voiced his views against the millage in the Facebook post below:
On Thursday, Sept. 28, KSLA spoke with the sheriff, who said he’s against the millage due to a lack of details.
“Be specific. And I’m saying this, not only as the sheriff, but telling [residents] that this isn’t what we needed. We needed bed space. But I’m telling you as a property owner, I don’t want to give you money without you telling me exactly what it’s for and you hadn’t in this,” he said.
Prator said he’s all for implementing the various types of programs, but the priority should be bed space in the juvenile detention center.
“I’m telling your right now. I need some place to put a 17-year-old that shot somebody this weekend and to keep that person from still being on the street. And that’s why I have a problem with this particular thing,” he said. “Don’t try to sell this like it’s going to do something about crime because it may or may not, depending on what program they choose to use. And it certainly won’t do anything about crime this coming year.”
Caddo administrator Erica Bryant said while bed space is important, it’s impossible to meet those needs without the necessary resources.
“You have to look at every avenue from the court system, to crime prevention programs, to spacing, to housing needs. We have to look at it holistically,” she said.
However, Bryant said if they can reach juveniles through these programs sooner, the need for more beds wouldn’t be necessary.
“If we can get to our youth, then we can address the crime of the future, and hopefully those juveniles won’t become repeat offenders when they become the 19 [or] 20-year-old.”
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