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

Local News

Online sports betting begins Friday in La.

Business

UPDATE: Honoré: Explosion proof EPA inspection team needed at every plant

Crime

Second arrest made in December shooting

Business News

UPDATE: Six injured in plant explosion

Business News

BREAKING: Chemical plant explosion in Sulphur

Local News

Task force chairman: Edwards’ proposed budget doesn’t offer enough funding for I-10 bridge

Local News

Qualifying underway for March 26 election

Local News

FEMA announces extension for Laura, Delta housing

Local News

UPDATE: Payton resigns as coach of New Orleans Saints

Local News

Biden administration officially withdraws vaccine rule

Business

Hunting, fishing app the ‘Airbnb for sportsmen’

Business

Names in the News: People shaping the future of Lake Area business

Business News

Mark Judson column: Nonprofit theft lessons learned

Business

It’s tax time: What to know before you file

Business

Woman guilty of fraud barred from doing taxes in Louisiana

Business News

After delays, Lucky Delta set to be torn down

National Sports

Source: Coach Sean Payton resigns from New Orleans Saints

Crime

1/25: Calcasieu Parish Sheriff announces arrest list

Local News

Cowboys look to use home stand to climb Southland standings

Local News

Man killed in auto-pedestrian accident

Local News

‘We can do better’: Residents say not enough coastal protection in SW La.

Crime

Rash of school bus part thefts in Jeff Davis

Crime

Three LC men arrested in Bossier City robbery of Sulphur man

National News

War fears mount as US draws down Ukraine embassy presence