A new wave of criminal justice reform measures is sweeping across Louisiana. Legislators passed the reforms and 1,400 prison inmates stand to benefit first from it. They will be released from prison in November earlier than they deserve. These offenders will be freed on November 1.
The Louisiana Legislature and state Gov. John Bel Edwards undertook this past spring to totally overhaul the state’s criminal justice system.
This will ensure that offenders with minor offenses who have behaved well in incarceration will get out earlier than deserved.
This will ultimately depopulate state prisons and local jails managed by sheriffs. But critics say it is not a wise move to make.
Only Non-Violent Offenders Are Eligible To Be Released Under the New Reform
The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections usually frees about 1,500 offenders each month. The new criminal reform measures could ensure that twice that number is released to the streets in November. Nearly 36,000 offenders were locked up by the state in June, the new reform could see about 16,000 of them get out before the end of the year.
Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc clarifies that only non-violent offenders will enjoy the early release reforms. Sex-offenders are not eligible for early release under this reform, but low-level drug offenders will have to go home earlier.
Meanwhile, LeBlanc revealed that between 60 and 100 critically sick inmates will be moved from prison to nursing homes in December under the state’s medical furlough. They are persons that may not recover from their illnesses and so pose no dangers to the society.
Officials Weigh the Pros and Cons of Releasing Offenders Earlier Than They Deserve
Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator however does not agree with the new criminal reform measures. He argued that criminals could be unleashed back on the society.
But Criminal Justice Reform Field Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center, John Burkhardt, argues otherwise. Burkhardt says only identified persons who have truly reformed and who have eight weeks less to complete their time in incarceration will be considered for early release.
“To say that it’s just blindly opening the flood gates is an absolute mischaracterization,” Burkhardt said. “There is a plan in place, these folks have been supervised and they’ve been identified as having been compliant with policies.”