Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards joined Pres. Donald J. Trump, other Republican governors and White House cabinet members and staffers in a roundtable discussion about the positive impact that criminal justice reform is having across the nation. Gov. Edwards shared with Pres. Trump that the historic package of bipartisan criminal justice reform legislation that he signed into law in 2017 is working.
“In Louisiana, we’re proud of the work we’ve done,” said Gov. Edwards. “It’s been sentencing reform, prison reform, and a real focus on reentry and for the first time in 20 years, I can tell you Louisiana does not have the highest incarceration rate in the nation today.”
Some comments from others in attendance:
Gov Matt Bevin (R- Kentucky): "The most powerful thing about this... I look at guys like John Bel Edwards in Louisiana, represents a different party than I do in Kentucky in terms of our political affiliation. This is something that we are very much of like-mind on. I think this transcends anything political."
Energy Sec. Rick Perry –“I want to share with these governors around here; every one of them is courageous…”
Just after the meeting, Gov. Edwards gave Pres. Trump a letter detailing Louisiana’s efforts. Here are some of the excerpts:
For nearly Twenty years, Louisiana was known as the nation’s incarceration capital. Our imprisonment rate was nearly double the national average. We were spending roughly $700 million annually on corrections, more than any other line item except education and healthcare, but our communities were not safer for it…
With the technical support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, we convened a bipartisan task force and spent a year scrutinizing our correctional policies and practices. In June of 2017, I signed into law the most expansive criminal justice reform package in Louisiana’s history…Republicans, Democrats and Independents, as well as the business and religious community, came together to pass these historic reforms.
The reentry programming services at LSP (Louisiana State Penitentiary) are key examples of how we plan to utilize the savings from our reforms to better prepare those being released from our prison system. In fact, the first year savings is dedicated specifically to the five parishes that generate nearly 50% of Louisiana’s prison admissions…
Those attending today’s meeting included:
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D -Louisiana)
Gov. Matt Bevin (R-Kentucky)
Gov. Phil Bryant (R-Mississippi)
Gov. Nathan Deal (R-Georgia)
Gov. Doug Burgum (R-N. Dakota)
Atty. General Ken Paxton (R-Texas)
Atty. General Pam Bondi (R-Florida)
Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta
Energy Secretary Rick Perry
Jared Kushner and other White House staffers