Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced that the Request For Proposals (RFP) for the community incentive program under the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) has been issued. It is open to qualified community organizations interested in enhancing and expanding re-entry services and providing community supports with the goal of expanding prison alternatives and reducing prison admissions and recidivism.
“Community involvement and support is a crucial part of advancing the criminal justice reform effort we’ve begun in Louisiana, which is already showing signs of progress,” said Gov. Edwards. “This is another important step toward improving public safety and further lowering our incarceration rate, which is no longer the highest in the nation. At the end of this month, the Department of Corrections will release its annual report showing improvements in caseloads and training for probation and parole officers, the number of people successfully completing supervision, fewer people going to prison for technical violations and drug possession, and millions of dollars freed up for reinvestment in the community. These are all early signs of progress, but there is much more work to do, and we must stay the course.”
The Community Incentive Grant Program is part of the JRI legislation Gov. Edwards signed into law in 2017. A portion of the savings from criminal justice reform is allocated to award grants to community organizations. The goal of the RFP is to solicit proposals for innovative support programs and/or services that meet one or more of the following goals for the target population:
1). Reduce prison admissions by expanding alternatives to prison such as pre-trial intervention and/or diversion programs;
2). Reduce returns to prison by improving and expanding community reentry resources such as: employment and employment readiness, transportation, behavioral health care (mental health and substance use treatment), family reunification, education and/ or vocational training, mentoring and peer support, and other wraparound services; and
3). Improve community coordination of reentry resources: such as providing services to access existing direct services or programs or developing a comprehensive community strategy for collaboration among multiple entities (government, non-profit, private, community group, public organizations, etc.) to enhance continuity of services provided.
In response to high incarceration and recidivism rates, the State Legislature created the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force (Task Force) in 2015 to examine the state’s criminal justice system and develop recommendations that would improve public safety and reduce spending. In March 2017, the Task Force presented Governor Edwards and the Legislature with 21 recommendations, which became the basis of a package of 10 bills, signed into law in June 2017.
As a result, Louisiana is projected to safely reduce the state’s prison population by 10%, reduce community supervision population by 12%, and save a projected $262 million over the next decade. Additionally, 70% of the total savings will be reinvested into programs and policies proven to reduce recidivism and support victims of crime.
Reinvestment money will be divided into four categories, one of which is community reinvestment grants to parishes, judicial districts, and nonprofit community partner organizations to expand evidence-based prison alternatives and reduce prison admissions. The Department of Public Safety and Corrections is responsible for administering these grants to qualifying organizations.