Governor John Bel Edwards plans to present a criminal justice reform plan to lawmakers that looks at reducing minimum sentences for some nonviolent offenses. Edwards says the state is looking at proven strategies that have worked to reduce the prison population in other southern conservative states.
“They do include looking at our mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders when those are nonviolent offenses,” Edwards said.
Edwards says we have to find a way to lower the state’s incarceration rate, because Louisiana spends $600 million a year on the Department of Corrections, which is a costly number during these tough budget times. He admits many district attorneys oppose reducing minimum sentences.
“But we are working with them to try and make sure that we can move forward because it is a key aspect of the overall approach,” Edwards said.
Edwards says the package he will present ahead of the regular session in April will be based on the recommendations made by his Criminal Justice Reform Task Force. He says the reforms will reduce state spending, incarcerate fewer people, and have a lower crime rate and less recidivism without jeopardizing public safety.
“There is a better way to do this, and we’re going to have a comprehensive holistic approach, and it be anything that’s going to be taking a risk or a gamble,” Edwards said.