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

UPDATE: Husband, wife both charged with molestation, cruelty

Crime

UPDATE: Reward offered in Oakdale homicide

life

Gerald Sims: A neighborly neighbor that others can count on

Crime

One arrested, one sought in molestation case

Local News

Two Police Jury buildings closed due to water main break

Local News

La. continues to average 1,500-3,000 COVID cases daily

Local News

Drink and Draw: CYPHACON social event allows ‘like-minded geeks’ to gather, have fun

Local News

Fort Polk name change could cost $1.4M

Local News

Kathleen Mayo: She’s had passion for teaching since age 9

Local News

Seersucker and a Solitaire: Lively fundraiser to benefit St. Nicholas Center for Children

Jim Beam

Jim Beam column: Focus on children, families

life

Attention to detail, respect for ingredients come naturally to Calla chef

Local News

CPSB cybersecurity breach investigation handed over to DA

Crime

Cpt. Darbonne mentors young students against violence, bullying

life

McNeese’s Victory Day celebrates kids with special needs

Local News

Photo Gallery: McNeese Football ‘Victory Day’

Local News

Body of missing canoeist recovered from Ouiska Chitto Creek

Crime

8/9: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Business

Pain at the Pump: Panelists give input on why gas prices have gotten so high

Crime

Charges upgraded in Oakdale shooting

Crime

8/8: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Crime

Arrest made in 11th Street homicide investigation

life

Olivia Newton-John, superstar singer and actress, dies at 73

Crime

Three 18-year-olds charged in armed robbery