Baton Rouge - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement as key parts of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative begin to be implemented. Beginning today, certain inmates in Louisiana who are currently serving a sentence for non-violent, non-sex offenses, as defined by Louisiana law, will begin to be released from prison an average 60-90 days early in an effort to reduce the state’s highest in the nation incarceration rate. Lawmakers passed a comprehensive package of criminal justice reform bills in 2017, following the most extensive review of our criminal justice system in the state’s history. These reforms are the result of recommendations from a bipartisan task force that included Republican and Democratic lawmakers, community leaders, business leaders, members of the judiciary and law enforcement.
“Louisiana’s label as having the highest incarceration rate in the nation may be part of our past, but it will not be a part of our future,” said Gov. Edwards. “For more than a year, stakeholders from every walk of life in Louisiana publicly met to thoroughly review our criminal justice system. Following a model set forth by other Southern, conservative states, their goal was to make Louisiana a safer place for our children while being smarter on crime than we have been in the past. Today, we begin the implementing the reforms that a powerful, bipartisan coalition of legislators passed this year. Along the way, we will, undoubtedly, find areas where we can improve these changes, but our goal remains the same – increase public safety, reduce over-incarceration for nonviolent offenses, and make smarter investments in alternatives to incarceration.”
The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is estimated to save approximately $262 million, with more than $180 million of those savings being reinvested in programs that reduce the recidivism rate and empower offenders to leave a life of crime.
Louisiana is the latest state to enact such reforms; many others, including Southern states such as Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, have experienced simultaneous drops in their crime and imprisonment rates.
Throughout the week, the Governor’s Office has released a series of videos from key stakeholders who participated in the overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system.