This week, the Louisiana State Legislature passed a justice reform package that has garnered support from both sides of the isle. The ten bill package is a monument of collaborative efforts from not only legislators, but District Attorneys, law enforcement, and reform advocates. Louisiana’s Republican-led lawmakers systematically addressed concerns from all parties involved to create reform that is comprehensive and lasting.
The legislation will have a major impact on Louisiana’s prison population and state budget, lowering the incarceration rate by 10% and saving an estimated $262 million in taxpayer dollars over the next decade. Lawmakers have assured the public that 70% of these funds will go back into rehabilitative programs for offenders to help them reintegrate into society instead of turning back to crime.
In addition to fiscal advantages, the reform package aligns Louisiana’s criminal justice system with the conservative approach that other states such as Texas, South Carolina, and Georgia have been implementing. These states have slashed costs while making neighborhoods safer, and Louisiana hopes to see the same success.
The bills passed on Wednesday will reduce penalties, expand parole opportunities, and overhaul structured sentencing. Courts will also have more flexibility when dealing with juvenile offenders, hopefully derailing the school-to-prison pipeline that many communities deal with every day. Efforts such as these have seen success across the country and Louisiana will be the latest state to reap the benefits.
Louisiana’s citizens have scored a major win with the passage of the ten bill reform package. However, there are still portions that are being debated in the State Legislature. With little time left in this session, Louisiana’s lawmakers must work out the details to these other bills that could alter the lives of non-violent offenders and potentially save tax payers even more money in the long run.
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