Baton Rouge - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards announced his 2017 Regular Legislative Session agenda to tackle criminal justice reform and strengthen community policing standards in Louisiana. The governor’s announcement follows months of deliberation among the members of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force and the release of their comprehensive plan for safely reducing the state’s highest-in-the-nation imprisonment rate. If adopted into law, the task force recommendations would reduce the state’s prison population by 13 percent over the next decade, reduce the number of people supervised in the community by 16 percent, and save taxpayers $305 million.
“While Louisiana is the incarceration capital of the world, I refuse to believe that our people are inherently more sinister than in other parts of the world,” said Gov. Edwards. “For too long this has been a drain on our state resources and done little to make our cities and towns more secure. Similarly, our community policing standards are outdated and in need of modernization to help meet the new challenges law enforcement officers face daily as they protect communities across Louisiana. The agenda I am proposing is comprehensive and will allow us to keep our streets safe while shrinking our bloated prisons.”
Similar bills in other states have generated widespread support from business leaders, faith groups and conservative think tanks as well as left-leaning advocacy organizations. In Louisiana, the task force generated endorsements from a wide array of thought leaders, including Right on Crime, Smart on Crime Louisiana and the New Orleans Chamber of Commerce. Faith groups such as the Louisiana Family Forum and Prison Fellowship Ministries support recommendations by the task force, as well as practitioner organizations including the Louisiana District Judges Association and the Louisiana Bar Association.
“Now is the time to act and make bold legislative changes and financial investments that will make meaningful changes to our criminal justice system,” said Department of Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc. “If passed, the proposed legislation will build upon and enhance the changes we have already made that are working to reduce incarceration while improving public safety at the same time.”
The governor’s criminal justice legislative agenda includes:
Implementing a felony class system, targeted penalties for lower-level nonviolent offenses – Senate President John Alario (R-District 8)
Habitual Offender Bill – Senate President Alario (R-District 8)
Implementing best practices in release and community supervision – Sen. Danny Martiny (R-District 10)
Mitigating the collateral consequences of felony convictions – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – Rep. Helena Moreno (D-District 93)
Mitigating the collateral consequences of felony convictions – Licensing boards – Rep. Julie Emerson (R-District 39)
Mitigating the collateral consequences of felony convictions – Child support Payments During Incarceration – Rep. Joe Marino (I-District 85)
Data Collection + Reinvestment – Rep. Walt Leger (D-District 91)
Ensuring that criminal justice debt is not a barrier to reentry – Rep. Tanner Magee (R-District 53)
Victim Notification – Rep. Stephen Dwight (R-District 35)
Juvenile Life without Parole – Sen. Dan Claitor (R-District 16)
The governor’s community policing standards legislative agenda includes:
Enhanced Law Enforcement Training Requirements – Reps. Ted James (D-District 101) and Katrina Jackson (D-District 16)
Enhancing the Louisiana Uniform Law Enforcement Statewide Reporting Database – Reps. Jimmy Harris (D-District 99) and Katrina Jackson (D-District 16)
Gov. Edwards’ full legislative agenda for the 2017 Regular Legislative Session will be unveiled throughout the week. The criminal justice reform and community policing agenda can be found here. This page will be updated throughout the week with additional proposals from the governor.
Click here for more information on the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force recommendations released on March 16, 2017.