criminal justice reform

Wallis Watkins

Governor John Bel Edwards will be in New Jersey Thursday to meet with President Trump about criminal justice reform. Louisiana revamped its criminal justice system last year, but the effort is facing criticism from some of the Governor’s staunchest political opponents, including Senator John Kennedy.

In 2017, bipartisan legislation was approved by the Louisiana legislature that expanded probation and parole opportunities for non-violent and non-sexual offenders. As a result, the state granted an early release to nearly 2,000 prisoners.

Wallis Watkins

Gov. John Bel Edwards announced, "the state of Louisiana no longer holds the title of incarceration capital of the nation."

Sarah Gamard/LSU Manship School News Service

Louisiana’s Legislature is already reconsidering a package of criminal justice reforms they passed last year. The goal was to lower the state prison population, which is the highest in the nation.

Wallis Watkins

Much like health care and higher education in Louisiana, the Department of Corrections is facing deep budget cuts next fiscal year, which would leave them with less money to house inmates. 

Doing Time, But How Much?

Jan 8, 2018
media commons

A task force looking at dividing crimes into classes is close to drafting its final recommendations.

“I think we could propose having Class D be a zero-to-10-year class; Class E be a zero-to-five-year class,” suggests Scott Nettles, an attorney from Livingston.

But the Felony Class System Task Force is also looking to see if this will help solve the problem of calculating actual prison time.

2017 Review: Less Trauma, Same Drama

Dec 29, 2017
Marit Vatne

How to summarize the year 2017 in state politics? Somewhat less trauma, but much of the same drama.

For the second year in a row, we had back-to-back-to-back legislative sessions, with Senate President John Alario repeating what became a familiar prediction: "There isn't a whole lot looks like that's going to get accomplished in this session."

Governor Optimistic, Despite Challenges

Dec 21, 2017
Sue Lincoln

Unsurprisingly, Gov. John Bel Edwards delivered a positive review of 2017 during his year-end press conference Wednesday.

"Despite the challenges that lie ahead, I remain extremely optimistic about the future of our great state," he said, while standing in front of one of the mansion's Christmas trees.

Felony Class System: A Thorny Issue

Dec 4, 2017
Mark Carroll

"What we are tasked with accomplishing is to create a system for over 600 felony offenses," explains former U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite, who is chairing the state's Felony Class System Task Force.

The group is looking to categorize offenses as A, B, C, D types, etc., generally based on current sentence ranges delineated in Louisiana law. Polite admits it's not easy to untangle the issues.

Sue Lincoln / WRKF

Kerry Myers served on the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Task Force and says he’s dismayed at the people watching and waiting for the reforms to fail.

“There are some people in this state that would love to find the next Willie Horton," says Myers. "That’s unfortunate because that began driving policy – policy based on fear, policy based on ignorance.”

But Myers, who also served time at Angola, is a realist, as well.

Incorrigible? Act 277 May Need A Do-Over

Nov 2, 2017
Louisiana Office of Juvenile Justice

"We've been told by the United States Supreme Court, 'You guys have to fix this,'" Baton Rouge Sen. Dan Claitor said, when he brought this year's bill to restrict sentencing juveniles to life without parole.

But Act 277, Louisiana's legislative response to the 2016 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Montgomery v Louisiana, may need a do-over.


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