I completely forgot to post this Sunday (and the rest of the week). Check this out!
"For more than two decades, blue-ribbon commissions have debated the framework of a penal system that has made Louisiana the world leader in incarceration. Lawyers, jurists, sheriffs and other experts have produced myriad analyses and policy recommendations, usually to no avail as tough-on-crime legislators, prosecutors and judges increased penalties and made parole harder to get.
But with increasingly tight state operating budgets putting a sharper focus on the number of Louisianians who are locked up -- currently 40,000 of them, at a cost of $663 million annually, without much evidence that it has led to a corresponding drop in crime -- the Louisiana Legislature this year approved several policy changes that in previous years probably would have gotten nowhere.
However, with the new provisions aimed only at nonviolent offenders, and none of the new measures expressly requiring leniency, the question is whether the alterations portend a fundamental policy shift or simply mark incremental steps.
For the first time, certain inmates sentenced to life without parole -- nonviolent offenders who drew their sentences under Louisiana's defunct "three strikes and you're out" law -- will be eligible for release. Other lifers, along with some second-time offenders, will be eligible for parole more quickly than under their original sentences.
In addition, two new judicial districts will operate "re-entry courts" aimed at helping released prisoners get job training and otherwise prepare to return to productive citizenship. Prosecutors and judges also will have new discretion to sidestep minimum penalty requirements in existing criminal statutes.
Besides being limited to those convicted of nonviolent crimes, and excluding all those found guilty of sex crimes, the new policies come with other conditions, including that inmates have displayed good behavior behind bars.
Paroles, meanwhile, will be decided by a newly created seven-person committee comprising the existing Pardon Board and two new appointees, yet to be named by Gov. Bobby Jindal. The old parole board will cease operations."
Louisiana Legislature takes steps toward reducing incarceration for nonviolent crimes | NOLA.com