Governor John Bel Edwards announces an agreement on a criminal justice reform package that seeks to lower the state’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate. Edwards says the plan will reduce the state’s prison population over the next decade by 10 percent.
“Making more people eligible for probation and drug court, bringing our laws for drug and property crimes in line with other states, reducing habitual offender penalties,” Edwards said.
Edwards says these reforms will also save the state $260 million over the next decade and much of the savings will be used on programs to reduce the recidivism rate. Louisiana District Attorneys Association Executive Director Pete Adams says they support the legislation, because it gives judges alternatives to prison for non-violent offenders.
“If you get somebody who is a career criminal who has a mental health problem or a drug problem and there’s no treatment facilities and no slots in drug court, there’s not a lot you can do for that person except send them off for incarceration,” Adams said.
The state senate approved major provisions of the reform package on Tuesday. New Orleans Representative Walt Leger will now look to get the lower chamber to agree with the bills that will give Louisiana major sentencing reform for individuals convicted of drug and property crimes.
“We knew at the outset that the incarceration rate was being driven largely by non-violent offenders. Being able to address the crimes that were driving the incarceration rate was one of the primary goals, and it will be one of the primary accomplishments,” Leger said.