In an effort to reduce the potential risk of COVID-19 in Louisiana's prisons and jails, Gov. John Bel Edwards has formed the newly created COVID-19 Furlough Review Panel under the direction of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections. The panel will review nonviolent/non-sex inmates who are within the last six months of their sentence for a temporary furlough.
"This additional endeavor will help further our efforts to protect staff and inmates in these facilities," James LeBlanc, Department of Public Safety and Corrections secretary, said. "Public safety is paramount when making a decision to furlough any inmate, which is why I have chosen to create this panel comprised of cross agency membership to evaluate each inmate for suitability."
The review panel will be comprised of six stakeholders who will meet digitally to review cases, with the first 40 inmates being reviewed on Friday. The panel will review inmates on a "rolling, case-by-case basis," LeBlanc said, until the public health emergency declared by the governor is terminated.
The panel is tasked with reviewing two separate groups of DOC inmates and an approval vote of at least five out of six is required for an inmate to be furloughed.
Group one includes inmates housed in state prisons with pre-existing medical conditions. These inmates must be serving sentences for nonviolent/non-sex offenses, are within six months of their release date and have housing or a residence ready to receive them upon furlough.
Group two includes inmates housed at local jails who are serving sentences for nonviolent/non-sex offenses, are within six months of their release date having already served at least six months and have housing or a residence ready to receive them upon furlough.
While on furlough, LeBlanc said inmates must adhere to guidelines including home incarceration, ankle monitoring and active supervision for the duration of the furlough.
"Furlough can be cancelled at any time if a violation occurs," LeBlanc said.
Cancelled furlough will result in inmates being brought back into custody to serve the remainder of the time left until their release date.