In a state where there are even more individuals incarcerated in local jails than state prisons, Louisiana is known as the prison capital of the world.

History of Legislation:

2012:                                                                                   Louisiana enacted three new prison reform laws in May 2012, including one that gave prosecutors discretion to waive mandatory minimum prison terms for non-violent, non-sex offenses

HB332 was enacted, a policy that doubles the mandatory minimum sentence for heroin distribution from five years to 10. It also created a new mandatory minimum of two years for heroin possession. 

SB 398/HB 683 expands eligibility for participation in a drug court probation program. Defendants who are charged with a violent crime, domestic battery, or driving under the influence, have other pending violent criminal charges, or have a prior homicide conviction are ineligible. Each drug court must issue an annual evaluation of effectiveness that details the program’s impact on recidivism.

HB 670 expands opportunities for intensive parole supervision—early release under the strictest level of supervision—to nonviolent habitual offenders. To be eligible, a person must be assessed as low-risk for reoffending and fulfill certain criteria, including completion of pre-release programming and educational goals.

HB 781 expands an already-existing reentry program— the “Offender Reentry Support Pilot Program”—in the Pointe Coupee Detention Center. The law authorizes the Pointe Coupee Sheriff to find funding, create an advisory board, and implement the program, which must include individually tailored programs providing behavioral health treatment, education, and job-skills training. The program will connect people leaving prison with community stakeholders and assist them in obtaining housing, necessary documentation, health insurance, and child care upon release.

HB149 was signed by Governor Jindal in support of state lawmakers, law enforcement lobbying groups, and the ACLU to ease up marijuana penalties in the state. Maximum penalties of 20-year sentences dropped to eight and the threshold for felony-level possession was raised to three-time multiple offenders. Additionally, a new second-chance provision was added for first-time offenders.



–  Annual budget for Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPSC) = $608.1 million 

–  Total state costs of prison = $698.4 million  

–  Average annual cost per inmate= $17,486 

State Population:

–  4.65 million people 


–  64% of Louisiana’s incarcerated are nonviolent offenders including drug offenders. That’s 16% more than the national average! 

–  Louisiana is 1 of 6 states where all life sentences are granted without parole.



How You Can Advocate for Sentencing Reform in Your State

You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.

Encourage your state lawmakers to support mandatory minimum sentencing reform. Be sure to connect with FAMM and other sentencing reformers on Facebook, Twitter, and by signing up for our email list.

Sentencing/Criminal Justice Reform Groups in this State:

February 22, 2017

Supporters say prison reform could answer Louisiana’s budget problems

Originally seen on Fox 29 BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) – Louisiana’s incarceration rate is one of the highest in the nation and Wednesday night, the Justice Reinvestment Task Force held a town hall asking community members to help come up with a plan to turn those numbers around. “We’re going to have to be smarter. We… Read more »

February 16, 2017

Groups plan legislative push for justice reinvestment

Originally seen in The News Star Offenders need substantive programs to move forward from a criminal history. Elain Ellerbe, state director for Louisiana Right On Crime, said reform work on this front has been accomplished over the past several legislative sessions, and the creation of a Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force in 2015 is providing the… Read more »

February 6, 2017

Louisiana Criminal Justice System Needs Reform

Originally seen in The Louisiana Weekly. On November 17, the Press Club of New Orleans, in partnership with Tulane Law School, hosted a discussion on one of Louisiana’s most contentious and most challenging issues: the criminal justice system. The panel discussion, entitled “Examining the Criminal Justice System,” is part of the Press Club’s Newsmaker Series,… Read more »

February 6, 2017

How Louisiana tried and failed to stop life prison sentences for teens

Originally seen in Mother Jones. With less than 10 minutes to go in the state legislative session Monday night, Louisiana seemed poised to reform sentencing laws that allow teenage offenders to be put behind bars for life, without the possibility of parole. Under a last-minute deal approved 83-2 earlier in the day by the state… Read more »