Legislative Victories

2017

Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package Passed and Signed

Louisiana spent more than $700 million annually on corrections. Our state imprisoned nearly double the national average and sent non-violent offenders to prison at three times the rate of neighboring states

This package, passed by the legislature and signed by the Governor, is estimated to lead to a reduction in prison population of 10% and savings of $262 million over the next decade. 70% of savings ($184 million) are earmarked for reinvestment in policies/programs proven to reduce recidivism and support crime victims. It will also lead to a reduction in community supervision of 12% making caseload sizes more manageable for probation and parole.

This legislation aims to focus prison beds on those who pose a serious threat to society, strengthen community supervision, clear away barriers to reentry, and reinvest a substantial portion of savings in rehabilitation programs.

2016

 

Allowed for certain offenses to be expunged after ten years

Offenders must be crime-free, and ten years of consistent employment is required. This approach makes it easier for people to rejoin the workforce and provide for their families. Law enforcement and criminal justice agencies retain access to this information.

 

Provided for the issuance of a Certificate of Employability by a Re-entry Court judge

This certificate will increase the likelihood that employers will consider hiring ex-offenders and bolster employment opportunities for those under supervision of a Re-entry Court.

 

Established a limitation of liability for mentors to help guide supervised individuals towards productive and crime-free lives

This reasonable protection will incentivize and encourage mentors to volunteer and serve our communities by guiding and coaching probationers supervised by the Re-entry Courts.

 

Authorized the 14th, 21st, and 32nd Judicial District Courts to operate Re-entry Courts

Increasing the number of Re-entry Courts in Louisiana will increase the number of offenders that can receive the expanded services available through these specialty courts. This will help reduce recidivism rates and save taxpayer dollars.

 

Established detailed reporting requirements on the Offender Re-entry Support Pilot Program within the Pointe Coupee Sheriff’s Office

This innovative program helps facilitate successful re-entry for inmates and merits careful study by the legislature.

 

Allowed for the suspension of certain sentences upon completion of Re-entry Court

This change increases the number of offenders that can benefit from access to the expanded services and intensive supervision of a specialty court, an approach that will lead to lower recidivism rates.

 

Created the “Swift And Certain Probation Pilot Program” in the 24th Judicial District Court

This innovative program will implement and monitor a system where offenders are subject to intensive supervision and frequent drug testing, and minor violations are quickly and proportionately handled using penalties and short jail stays. In other jurisdictions this approach has led to a reduction in revocations and new crimes by probationers.

 

Ensured that former inmates have a fair chance to explain their record when applying for a government job

Government employers can still conduct background checks and can use a criminal record as a reason to disqualify an applicant, but applicants will now have the opportunity to explain the record and provide any relevant context that should be considered.

 

2015

 

Established the Justice Reinvestment Task Force

The formation of a Task Force that includes key stakeholders in the criminal justice system will facilitate a broad set of reforms similar to those in states that have reduced incarceration rates without compromising public safety. The Task Force will collect data, work with stakeholders to identify opportunities for improvement, and help put together a comprehensive reform package. This approach has led to successful reform campaigns in Mississippi, Georgia, South Dakota, and other states.

 

Expanded the innovative approach to revocation caps

In 2007, the legislature implemented a 90-day incarceration limit for those whose probation or parole had been revoked for the first time after violating rules of their community supervision. The aim of this reform was to steer lower-level offenders to less expensive and more effective alternatives. A recent Pew study demonstrated that this policy has maintained public safety while saving taxpayers nearly $18 million in annual corrections costs.

To build upon this success, lawmakers placed caps on subsequent revocations. This will offer Louisiana even greater cost savings and highlight the value of using alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders.

 

Reduced penalties for minor marijuana offenses

Louisiana will save taxpayer money and reduce incarceration rates by providing appropriate sentences for individuals convicted of possessing small amounts of marijuana. Reducing penalties for simple possession, while still providing enhanced penalties for repeat offenders, will save the state money by eliminating disproportionate sentences for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

 

2014

 

Created provisional occupational licenses

These licenses allow certain ex-offenders to obtain a provisional, or probationary, occupational license if they are otherwise qualified. This makes it easier for qualified ex-offenders to rejoin the workforce and become productive citizens.

 

Provided civil liability protection for employers

This law protects employers who hire ex-offenders without a violent or sex offense from being sued on that basis alone. This increases the likelihood that employers will consider hiring qualified ex-offenders.

 

Piloted a re-entry program in Pointe Coupee Parish

This innovative pilot program in Pointe Coupee Parish rehabilitates and supports offenders. The “Offender Re-entry Support Pilot Program” is maintained by the Parish Sheriff and provides offenders with assistance to facilitate re-entry into society following incarceration.

 

Authorized a Veteran’s Courts program

Created specialized Veteran’s Treatment Court Programs throughout Louisiana to assist veterans overcoming drug and substance abuse issues and any mental health issues contributing to involvement with the criminal justice system. The court programs operate like drug court programs throughout the state but will function in a manner specifically tailored for veterans. These specialized courts can tap into available federal resources and will help veterans access federal veteran programs and services offered for reintegration and rehabilitation.

 

Promoted fiscal responsibility by studying incarceration and recidivism rates

This study resolution directed the Department of Public Safety and Corrections to conduct a comprehensive statewide review of factors affecting Louisiana’s incarceration and recidivism rates. This review also includes an evaluation of the availability and efficacy of alternatives to incarceration and the utilization of such alternatives.

 

Provided a “cleansing period” for non-violent offenders

Specifies that an offense will not be counted as a second or subsequent offense if more than ten years have lapsed since expiration of maximum sentence for prior conviction. This applies only to non-violent and non-sex offenses, and will result in a greater number of non-violent offenders being eligible for parole consideration.

 

Expanded eligibility for medical parole

This reform enables the Department of Corrections to more efficiently and preemptively utilize the Medical Parole Procedure, further tap into existing cost-effective treatment alternatives to offset the medical cost of these infirm inmates, and curb DOC’s increasing need to dedicate additional wings at Correctional institutes specifically to infirm inmates.