Houma Courier:  Former inmates grateful for early release

While many complained about the unusually cold weather that chilled southern Louisiana to the bone over the past several days, Schriever resident Derrick Young said he cherished every second of it.

After being released from jail, Young has come to appreciate every day of freedom no matter what the weather does.

“It was great seeing my family during Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s,” the 38-year-old former inmate said. “It’s been a good experience.”

Young was one of about 1,900 inmates granted early release on Nov. 1 as part of the state’s criminal justice reform plan, which was passed by the Legislature during the summer.

The initiative’s goal was to reduce Louisiana’s prison population by 10 percent over the next 10 years. The measure aims to save taxpayers $262 million over the next decade, state officials said.

Under the new law, offenders were released 60 to 90 days earlier than originally scheduled. Only those inmates serving sentences for non-violent offenses were considered for the program, Gov. John Bel Edwards press secretary Tucker Barry said.

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Houma Courier Editorial:  Local inmates benefit from justice reform

Gov. John Bel Edwards and the state Legislature set Louisiana on a course toward improvement when they worked out a criminal justice reform package last summer.

Now, the fruits of that labor have begun to be reaped here in the local area.

The justice reforms are aimed at lowering Louisiana’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate and allowing more people and families to live productive lives rather than expensive and idle time behind bars.

That is an oversimplification.

The reform package focuses on lessening the prison sentences of non-violent offenders who often are serving incredibly long jail terms and could better serve themselves and society working and paying taxes, spending time with their loved ones and doing all the things that free people take for granted.

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