The state of Louisiana will likely release roughly 1,400 additional state prisoners on November 1 due to the criminal justice overhaul taking effect that month.
Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and the State Legislature approved the criminal justice reform in June. The law changes will retroactively shorten criminal sentences for qualified prisoners.
The Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) usually releases about 1,500 prisoners a month. In November, about twice as many people will be freed due to the reform, bringing the number to about 2,900 releases.
How Many Could Qualify for Shortened Sentences?
In August, Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc estimated that around 3,000 to 4,000 prisoners could qualify for shortened sentences and be released before the year ends.
However, the majority of prisoners whose sentences will be shortened by the law changes won’t be released anytime soon, he added.
To date, review of records of 16,000 inmates who could be affected has yet to be completed. These records need be reviewed manually and individually.
Who Will Be Affected by the Criminal Justice Overhaul Changes?
The additional inmates who will likely be released next month are expected to be non-violent offenders.
The sentencing changes also qualify a few hundred murder convicts, mostly as juveniles, for parole. But they will likely undergo a more rigorous procedure including careful consideration by the parole board. Families of the victims and district attorneys also have the rights to object to the parole and put violent offenders in prison for a longer time.
Around 60 to 100 prisoners are also expected to be placed on medical furlough in December and moved to nursing homes, LeBlanc added. This kind of temporary releases is given to those who are not likely to recover from illnesses and no longer pose danger to society.
However, they can be sent back to prison once they become healthy enough not to require full-time medical care.
Can the Probation and Parole System Handle the Increase?
In anticipation of the upsurge in the number of people getting out of prison, corrections will deploy more manpower to jails next month. They will assist with the releases and ensure a smooth transition.
Reason Behind the Criminal Justice Overhaul
- Reduce the number of people going to jails and prisons by 10 percent.
- Save $78 million over the next decade
- More people can be diverted into mental health programs, drug courts and other custody that don’t require them to be incarcerated