On Thursday, June 15, Governor John Bel Edwards signed a series of bills into law that bring changes to Louisiana's criminal justice system. The ten new laws aim to reduce the state's high incarceration rate and prison costs.
This includes parole opportunities for juveniles with life sentences, faster processes for former convicts to get an occupational license, and lowering mandatory minimum sentences. One of the new laws was written by Senator Danny Martiny from Metairie. It expands the eligibility for alternatives to incarceration, such as drug rehab and opportunities for early release.
"I hope this is just the beginning and as we continue to take a look at the way we incarcerate people, we will handle it better, we will realize savings, make sure that the bad people stay in jail and those people that are salvageable, get out and become productive citizens again,” said Martiny.
"We're going into a new phase of criminal justice policy for the state of Louisiana,” said Will Harrell with the Campaign for Smart Justice. “Much was accomplished this legislative session, but there's much more to do. We can't undo 40 years of misguided policy in one legislative session."
Louisiana's Head of Prisons Jimmy LeBLanc says the policy changes will go into effect November 1.