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Police Juries, Home Rule, and Self-Government in Louisiana

Police Juries, Home Rule, and Self-Government in Louisiana


The actions of local governments may not receive the same attention as our national government, but they are just as—if not more—important. Local governments determine policies on a variety of topics that impact our everyday lives ranging from sanitation, roads, schools, property zoning, and law enforcement. The United States operates under a system of federalism in which the Constitution grants certain governing powers to the national government and reserves the remaining powers to the states. Each state then has its own system to determine what governing powers are delegated to local governments, and what powers are reserved at the state level. Louisiana has its own unique way of how government is run at the local level. 



Have students read Home Rule Charters and Police Juries while completing Handout A: Home Rule Charters Graphic Organizer and Handout B: Police Juries Graphic Organizer to assist with comprehension. The first lines of each have been completed as an example. Then have them answer the below Explore and Assess Questions. 

Handout A: Home Rule Charters Graphic Organizer 


Opening Line of Paragraph  Vocabulary  Paragraph Summary in My Own Words 
Local governments are indispensable… 





indispensable: extremely necessary  Local governments play an important role in our daily lives but sometimes lack the power to carry out its role 
Louisiana, like many other states…  tenets: principles    






The powers that a local government may exercise are listed in their charter…  abides: follows 


tenor: the course of thought that runs through something 


apportion: assigns 







The first home rule charter in Louisiana was granted to East Baton Rouge Parish…  parish: term used for districts in Louisiana 


self-actualizing: a process that automatically is completed with no further action needed after starting 

Cities and parishes typically seek a home rule charter after finding…  autonomy: the ability to act on its own without external authorization or direction 


zoning: dividing an area into separate zones for specific purposes, like keeping houses in one area and businesses in another  


Handout B: Police Juries Graphic Organizer 


Opening Line of Paragraph  Vocabulary  Paragraph Summary in My Own Words 
Unique in the United States, police juries are elected political bodies that govern most parishes in the state of Louisiana…





parish: term used in Louisiana for “county” 


ordinances: laws

Some of Louisiana’s parishes are governed by police juries, which possess legislative and executive authority
Police juries predate Louisiana statehood in 1812… Louisiana, like many other states…  delineated: outlined  






The original law that established police juries was passed at the Second Session of the Third Legislature of the Territory of Orleans 1811… prescribed: stated as a rule to be followed 

gendarmerie: law enforcement







In parishes where voters have replaced police juries with other forms of government in recent years, proponents of the switch have cited the efficiency of an administrative branch working separately from a legislative body, as opposed to the somewhat antiquated system of police jurors serving both the legislative and executive functions… antiquated: outdated  


Home Rule Charters Questions 

  1. What is Dillon’s Rule? What are the tenets of this rule? 
  2. What is the purpose of a local government charter? 
  3. Describe the characteristics of each of the following types of charters in Louisiana. 
  4. Special-act charter 
  5. General-act charter 
  6. Home rule charter 
  7. What are some reasons that a locality would change to a home rule charter? 
  8. What are some reasons that citizens might not want a home rule charter?

Police Juries Questions 

  1. What branches of government does a police jury comprise of in Louisiana? 
  2. What is the other type of local government in Louisiana besides police juries? 
  3. What are some fields that police juries have authority over? 


  1. Compare and contrast police juries with home charters. Why do you think some parishes have one and some have the other? 
  2. How are these systems similar to that of the national government? 
  3. How do these systems differ from the national government? 
  4. How does the principle of federalism and the ability for citizens to create a variety of different forms of local governments promote self-government?