Today, the Office of Gov. John Bel Edwards released new data regarding the bipartisan criminal justice reforms passed by the Louisiana Legislature in 2017. The information shows that, despite claims, the reforms in Louisiana are working and showing signs of success.
Gov. Edwards was invited by President Donald J. Trump to attend a bipartisan policy disucssion on federal criminal justice reform efforts.
In response to false claims made by Sen. John Kennedy, Richard Carbo, spokesman for Gov. Edwards released a statement:
"This information by the junior senator is unequivocally wrong. He has never been one to let facts get in the way of a good headline and routinely manipulates information to fit his narrative. The bipartisan criminal justice reforms are working in Louisiana and were modeled off of reforms implemented in other Southern conservative states. By focusing on incarcerating more violent offenders, Louisiana is getting smarter on crime and able to put in place programs that ensure non-violent offenders are better prepared to enter society.
"Republicans, Democrats and Independents, as well as the business and religious community came together to pass these reforms. Louisiana was spending $700 million per year to incarcerate more people than anywhere in the country, but our communities were not any safer for it. Today, that’s no longer the case as we relinquished that title. We’re reinvesting the savings from these reforms into programs that will reduce recidivism.
"This is strictly politics for Sen. Kennedy who is openly considering running for governor. He’s embarrassing the state of Louisiana in his letter to the White House, but even worse, he’s scaring the public using flawed data. With Sen. Kennedy, you can always expect him to put his political ambitions ahead of the people of he represents. Gov. Edwards is honored to be invited by President Trump to have a serious bipartisan policy discussion about these successful reforms.
CORRECTING SEN. KENNEDY:
The Louisiana District Attorney’s Association supported
the bipartisan reforms and both the DA’s and the Sheriffs serve on the oversight task force. (NOLA.com, May 2, 2017
Sen. Kennedy is using flawed data from a single district attorney. A complete factsheet outlining that misinformation is available here
His claims regarding Burl Cain and Mike Edmondson: I’ll remind you that both have been removed by the Governor and any allegations of impropriety are being investigated by the proper authorities and will be dealt with accordingly
CLAIM: The overall goal was twofold: reduce costs and give another state the title of world’s highest incarceration rate.
FACT: The overall goal for the bipartisan reforms was to bring Louisiana sentences for non-violent, non sex crimes in line with the rest of the country and to use savings to expand programs that are already working to rehabilitate people and keep them from coming back to prison so that they can lead productive lives in their communities and with their families.
CLAIM: The result is that the Justice Reinvestment Act is failing the law-abiding public in Louisiana. Already, 22% of inmates have been rearrested, and it hasn’t even been a year since the releases.
: The total re-arrest rate is roughly 19 percent which is 26% points less than the national average as reported in the NCI report. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), on an annual basis, 44 percent of prisoners were arrested during the first year after release. Currently, following reforms, the state is trending 19% for total rearrests, according to the Department of Corrections. The report is available here
Sen. Kennedy has a minimal understanding of the criminal justice system, confusing re-arrests with recidivism. These are two very different things. Louisiana follows a national standard in calculating recidivism. Average recidivism for first year is 15% (revoked or new conviction). Louisiana is currently at 11.6%.