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.
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.
You can do several things to work toward reforming your state’s sentencing laws – go to our get involved page to find out how.
May 2, 2017
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
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 »
March 13, 2017
Originally seen in NOLA.com Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ task force on reducing Louisiana’s world-leading incarceration rate plans to vote March 16 on a series of recommendations that could form the basis of new legislation. A member of the task force provided The Times-Picayune with a draft of the recommendations. Here’s a summary: Group felony offenses in… Read more »
March 2, 2017
As seen on NOLA.com A lot of support is coalescing around Gov. John Bel Edwards‘ push to reduce Louisiana’s prison population, but an early point of contention has emerged. There is some serious disagreement among those advising the governor about how to handle people convicted of violent crimes. The governor’s advisory board on lowering the… Read more »