Justice reforms working as intended

The American Press

The Louisiana Department of Corrections (DOC) saved $12.2 million over the last year because of the criminal justice reforms approved by the Legislature in 2017 with major support from Gov. John Bel Edwards. The reforms include more parole and probation opportunities, programs aimed at helping people committing low-level offenses avoid prison and some early prison releases.

The reforms stipulate that 70 percent of the savings ($8.5 million this time) must be spent on vocational training, education and drug treatment for inmates and people released from prison and victim services. Some sheriffs will get money to conduct those same programs for state prisoners in their local jails.

Non-profit groups, parishes and judges will get $2.6 million. The Times-Picayune/NOLA.com said the DOC would accept grant requests for efforts that help people avoid prison or that prevent people who have been released from committing another crime.

Sheriffs close to the five parishes that send the most inmates to prison will receive $2.3 million. Those parishes are Orleans, Jefferson, St. Tammany, East Baton Rouge and Caddo. The sheriffs will use those funds for rehabilitation efforts.

Another $1.9 million will be used for expansion of transitional housing for people to go when they leave prison, for specialty courts that are alternatives to incarceration and for day reporting centers. These programs will also be focused on those five parishes.

Victim services are to receive $1.7 million. A family justice center will be opened in Baton Rouge to provide services to crime survivors and their families. Clerks of court will receive money to improve the system of notifying victims when something changes in the cases that affected them.

A major concern when the reforms were enacted last year was that legislators might use the criminal justice reform savings to balance the state budget. However, lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget approved using the $8.5 million as the law stipulated.

Some prisoners who were released early have committed new crimes, but the number of repeat offenders has declined.

Reforms have already made it possible for Louisiana to shed the record of having the highest incarceration record in the nation. It’s only at No. 2 now, but the reforms have just begun and are already showing positive results that should improve that ranking.

””

In this file photo, Gov. John Bel Edwards visits with business leaders Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017 at the SEED Center to discuss criminal justice reform, which has been met with resistance from some district attorneys.

RickHickmanPhotographer
https://www.americanpress.com/content/tncms/avatars/6/d3/ea1/6d3ea1c8-3a6c-11e7-a1c2-0f91a5883b36.b31acdd1ef972ec0a2acb8ea5b28d153.png

Crime

Sulphur High student arrested after threat made

Crime

Sheriff: Escapee shot after firing at officers

Local News

Governor optimistic about federal hurricane aid for SW La.

Local News

Eastbound lane of I-10 bridge remains closed after fiery crash

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column:Finally, a feel-good movie

Business News

$21M rice mill should be complete by next harvest

Crime

Three more linked to Oakdale bar shooting

Local News

State confirms seventh pediatric death from COVID-19 in fourth surge

Local Business News

Jeff Davis hoping to join program designed to attract business

Local Business News

EMS Academy looking for ‘right people in right spots’

Local Business News

Four state amendments await voters Nov. 13

Local Business News

George Swift column: Recovery, rebuilding after storms

Local Business News

Names in the News: People making a difference in the Lake Area

Local News

Breaux has honed some serious culinary skills since his Crock-pot days

Local News

Cemetery Association asking for help with hurricane-damaged graves

Crime Brief

Fort Polk soldiers charged in DeRidder drive-by shooting

Crime Brief

Lake Arthur man loses hunting privileges

Local News

Higgins says he will vote against raising debt limit

Local News

Field of education plays major role in Broussard household

Local News

Driver, passenger killed in collision with 18-wheeler

Local News

Colo. man struck, killed in Calcasieu

Local News

The Last Island Hurricane of 1856: Killer storm wiped out a pre-Civil War resort island

Local News

Volunteer of Week: Stanford dedicates life to city

Local News

Slow rebuild: Local officials say recovery still a ways off