|Goal #5: Adopt “Smart on Crime” Reforms that Reduce the Highest Incarceration Rate in the Nation
One out of every 55 adults in Louisiana is in prison compared to one in 100 adults nationwide, giving Louisiana the highest incarceration rate in the country. The population in Louisiana prisons has doubled over the
past 20 years, with 40,000 adults incarcerated today and another 69,000 people on probation or parole. Only 37 percent of offenders in Louisiana have been convicted of violent crimes,86 and the average sentence for a drug-related crime is almost 10 years.
The Solution Over the past year, the reinvigorated Louisiana Sentencing Commission—composed of district attorneys, judges, sheriffs, legislators, victims, and other public safety stakeholders—unanimously approved a set of policy recommendations to the Louisiana Legislature for consideration in the 2011 regular session. The recommendations were based on a careful examination of prison population data and evidence-based
corrections practices. Yet the proposals faced an uphill battle at the Capitol, ultimately achieving only limited success.
The Blueprint for Action
- Revise the criteria for parole eligibility for non-violent offenders.
- Expand early medical parole.
- Simplify and expand the “good time” laws, so that eligible non-violent offenders qualify for earlier release.
- Support the Sentencing Commission’s 2011-12 efforts to re-visit and standardize outdated laws on drug offenses and other non-violent crimes.