The Justice Reinvestment Task Force commissioned by Governor John Bel Edwards releases their recommendations to reduce Louisiana’s highest-in-the-world incarceration rate. Department of Corrections Secretary James Leblanc says if enacted, these proposals would put us second in the world.
“We conservatively estimate that the prison population will drop below 32,000 over the next 10 years, a 13% reduction saving taxpayers over $300 million,” Leblanc said.
Leblanc says their recommendations include changes to drug and property crimes, altering probation and parole supervision, simplifying the criminal code, and narrow sentencing ranges. He says they are presenting 26 ideas borrowed from other states that reflect compromise and innovation.
“The felony class system is based on Alabama, the habitual offender policies are based on South Carolina and Virginia, creating pro-eligibility for 2nd degree murder, that’s already the law in 48 other states,” Leblanc said.
The recommendations seek to focus prison beds on those who pose a serious threat to public safety. Governor Edwards acknowledges there are some people who need to be in jail for a long time, either for the nature of the crime or their threat to public safety.
“In some instances, being smart on crime is being tough, but it is not true that being tough on crime is always being smart on crime,” Edwards said.
The proposals from the task force will be put into bills that will be considered in the upcoming regular session. Edwards says while the recommendations are a good start, we’re a long way from mission accomplished.
“In many, many ways, the serious most substantive work is yet to come as we take these concepts and reduce them to language in legislative instruments,” Edwards said.