NEW ORLEANS – Dolfinette works for an organization that advocates on behalf of those who were formerly incarcerated. She herself was incarcerated for seven years, four months and 28 days for shoplifting. She told me she worked in the fields at the Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women for 2¢ an hour.
Dolfinette and her coworkers work against the disenfranchisement of formerly incarcerated people who are currently on parole and probation. They help lead the effort to “Ban the Box” in Louisiana – to remove the ability for employers to question a prospective employee’s legal history on job applications.
Louisiana not only claims the highest incarceration rate in the United States, it also has the most obstacles to employment for those who are convicted felons.
New Orleans has the highest rate of incarceration in the state of Louisiana, and is currently suffering from a shortage of public defenders. A fees-based system means that the funding for the public defender system comes mainly from a user-pay system – many times directly from those who are found guilty or plead guilty in court. “That creates a conflict of interest,” says Lindsey Hortenstein of the Orleans Public Defender’s office.
On Day 10, NO PLATFORM spoke with Ms. Hortenstein about the shortage of public defenders in New Orleans, and with Dolfinette about her experiences — and how she sees things in the United States today.