Baton Rouge - Today, Gov. John Bel Edwards released the following statement as key parts of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative begin to be implemented. Beginning today, certain inmates in Louisiana who are currently serving a sentence for non-violent, non-sex offenses, as defined by Louisiana law, will begin to be released from prison an average 60-90 days early in an effort to reduce the state’s highest in the nation incarceration rate.  Lawmakers passed a comprehensive package of criminal justice reform bills in 2017, following the most extensive review of our criminal justice system in the state’s history. These reforms are the result of recommendations from a bipartisan task force that included Republican and Democratic lawmakers, community leaders, business leaders, members of the judiciary and law enforcement. 

“Louisiana’s label as having the highest incarceration rate in the nation may be part of our past, but it will not be a part of our future,” said Gov. Edwards.  “For more than a year, stakeholders from every walk of life in Louisiana publicly met to thoroughly review our criminal justice system.  Following a model set forth by other Southern, conservative states, their goal was to make Louisiana a safer place for our children while being smarter on crime than we have been in the past.  Today, we begin the implementing the reforms that a powerful, bipartisan coalition of legislators passed this year.  Along the way, we will, undoubtedly, find areas where we can improve these changes, but our goal remains the same – increase public safety, reduce over-incarceration for nonviolent offenses, and make smarter investments in alternatives to incarceration.”

The Justice Reinvestment Initiative is estimated to save approximately $262 million, with more than $180 million of those savings being reinvested in programs that reduce the recidivism rate and empower offenders to leave a life of crime.

Louisiana is the latest state to enact such reforms; many others, including Southern states such as Georgia, Mississippi, and South Carolina, have experienced simultaneous drops in their crime and imprisonment rates.

  • Texas:  Since their 2007 reforms, the imprisonment rate is down 16%, and crime is down 30%.
  • South Carolina:  Since their 2010 reforms, their imprisonment rate is down 16%, and crime is down 16%.
  • North Carolina:  Since their 2011 reforms, their imprisonment rate is down 3% and crime is down 20%.
  • Georgia:  Since their 2012 reforms, their imprisonment rate is down 7% and crime is down 11%.

Throughout the week, the Governor’s Office has released a series of videos from key stakeholders who participated in the overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system.

  • The first video features Speaker Pro Temp Walt Leger (D-New Orleans), a former prosecutor and author of Act 261 of the 2017 Regular Session, one of the ten bills included in the criminal justice reinvestment package of legislation. Click here to watch Rep. Leger’s video.
  • The second video released highlights the Rev. Gene Mills, president of the Louisiana Family Forum and member of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force. Click here to watch Rev. Mills’ video.
  • The third video includes Natalie LaBorde, Deputy Assistant Secretary with the Department of Corrections, the state agency charged with overseeing implementation of the reforms. Click here to watch LaBorde's video.
  • The fourth video features Sheriff Craig Webre of the Lafourche Parish Sheriff's Office, explaining why these reforms are good news for his parish and all of Louisiana. Click here to watch Sheriff Webre’s video.  
  • The fifth video highlights Flozell Daniels Jr., Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force member and victims advocate. Click here to watch the video.
  • Director of the Division of Children and Families with the Louisiana Supreme Court, Alanah Odom Hebert, speaks about necessity of reforms in the sixth video. Click here to watch.
  • State Senator Danny Martiny addresses why it was critical for the legislature to act on reform in Louisiana. Click here to watch Sen. Martiny’s video.
  • Voices of the Experience representative, Norris Henderson, speaks about the necessity of reinvestment and rehabilitation for those reentering society. Click here to watch.
  • The final video harkens back to the day Gov. Edwards was joined by a large, bipartisan group of legislators and stakeholders as he signed the package of criminal justice reinvestment legislation. Click here to watch the video.