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:

Gov. John Bel Edwards signed SB 220 into law, which repeals most of Louisiana’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. Earlier, FAMM sent a letter of support of SB 220 to the Louisiana legislature. The law’s passage—which involved the hard work of several reform groups—is especially impressive considering that Louisiana is the biggest jailer in the country.

2015:  HB149 was signed by then-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.

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 expanded 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.

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.


        Louisiana Department of Public Safety and

                  Corrections Budget: $608.1 million 

        State Expenses: $698.4 million  

        Avg Annual Cost per inmate: $17,486 

        State Population: 4.65 million people 

        State Incarcerated Population: 36,377 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:

June 15, 2017

FAMM Praises Louisiana for Repeal of Mandatory Minimums

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Rabiah Burks rburks@famm.org 202.822.6700 FAMM Praises Louisiana for Repeal of Mandatory Minimums WASHINGTON– Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM) today commended Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards for signing into law SB 220, which repeals most of Louisiana’s mandatory minimum drug sentencing laws. The bill is a significant component of a larger criminal justice… Read more »

May 2, 2017

The conservative case for sentencing reform in Louisiana: Opinion

Originally seen on NOLA.com Opinion by David Keene As is well known by now to anyone paying attention, Louisiana’s incarceration rate is the highest in the nation. One of the reasons for this dubious honor is the state’s high rate of incarceration of nonviolent, drug-related offenders. That is the conclusion of a report released last… Read more »

March 16, 2017

Louisiana sentencing proposals sent to governor; now the hard work begins

Originally seen in NOLA.com There was a lot of rejoicing when Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ task force on reducing Louisiana’s prison population approved its final set of recommendations for policy and law changes Thursday (March 16). Edwards received a standing ovation from the panel and the audience at its meeting for his remarks, which built on one of his… Read more »