As a result of criminal justice reform measures passed in the latest legislative session, 1,400 inmates in Louisiana will be released early from prison in November. Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator said last week that some extremely dangerous criminals could be back on our streets. But Criminal Justice Reform Field Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center John Burkhardt says that isn’t true.
“These are folks that were convicted of nonviolent offenses and they’re on average being released about eight weeks early thanks to a 5% change in the application of good time credit for parole.”
Burkhardt says no one convicted of sex crimes, manslaughter or murder will be released early as a result of the legislation approved earlier this year. He says the new sentencing laws accelerate the release mechanism for inmates on goodtime parole.
“And to earn good time parole credit, there has to be a good disciplinary record. In many cases, there has to be some form of atonement and the DOC does have a vetting process.”
Sheriff Prator also said Louisiana needs to take its time before opening the flood gates and letting inmates out that should not be released. But Burkhardt says safety checks are performed before each individual is released to ensure there are no consecutive sentences requiring an inmate to remain in custody.
“To say that it’s just blindly opening the flood gates is an absolute mischaracterization. There is a plan in place, these folks have been supervised and they’ve been identified as having been compliant with policies.”