Current Event Analysis
The high rates of incarceration in the US have become a cause for concern over the past few years, and Louisiana is one of the states with the highest rates earning it the title of the incarceration capital of the country. The state government in 2017, led by Governor John Bel Edwards, working with state legislators overhauled the state’s criminal justice system geared towards reduced prison sentences and alternatives for those involved in low-level crimes. In the article titled ‘Louisiana Lawmakers approve using $8.5 million for criminal justice overhaul,’ Julia O’Donoghue details the allocation of funds towards various efforts to lower the incarceration rates. The main aim of the program is to reduce recidivism and the number of people going to jail for low-level crimes by supporting programs like education, vocational schools, and drug treatment for inmates and people that have been released from prison.
The $8.5 million in the program comes from savings that resulted from the 2017 overhaul of the criminal justice system in the state of Louisiana. As per the laws of the state, 70 percent of any such savings in the Department of Corrections should be allocated to efforts to lower incarceration rates and victim services (O’Donoghue). The parishes that will benefit from the allocation of funds are East Baton Rouge, St Tammany, Orleans, Jefferson, and Caddo. Non-profits groups, parishes, judges, sheriffs, specialty courts, transitional housing, and victim services will receive an amount of money to bolster efforts towards reducing recidivism and the prison population.
Recidivism is a particular area of interest when it comes to the high rates of incarceration in the country, and this is true for Louisiana. Recidivism refers to a situation in which a person formerly convicted of a crime reoffends after release, and they are sent back to prison. The current recidivism rate in the state of Louisiana stands at 43%, and the Department of Corrections under Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc is trying to reduce the numbers by half over the next decade (O’Donoghue). Another factor contributing to the high number of people in prison in Louisiana is that people convicted of low-level crimes are given jail terms rather than seeking alternatives such as probation, community service, and parole programs. When first-time offenders convicted of low-level crimes or drug addicts are sent to jail, it is highly unlikely that a prison sentence will reform them. The Department of Louisiana is working towards the expansion of programs that will keep such offenders out of jail, like special courts. Programs such as parole and transitional housing help released prisoners adjust to life outside prison, which is vital in reducing recidivism rates (Edwards). Most of the time, former prisoners tend to re-offend because they find it hard to adjust to life outside prison. They need support from programs to help them stay away from crime.
The state of Louisiana has made concerted efforts towards addressing the issue of high incarceration rates. The article details some of the programs that the state seeks to give funding to support their efforts towards reducing recidivism and keeping people out of criminal activities and jail. Recidivism rates in the state stand at 43%, and some programs that will help the state achieve its goal to cut down this number by half include transitional housing and non-profit programs. Another critical part of the state efforts in expanding funding to victim services which includes money for victim restoration after a crime and helping the department alert victims of any changes in the status of their alleged attacker. The funds allocated by the state have been divided across all these efforts, and it is sure to make a significant impact on the criminal justice system.
Edwards, John Bel. “Reinvesting in Louisiana’s Criminal Justice System.” Loy. L. Rev. 63 (2017): 393.
O’Donoghue, Julia. “Louisiana Lawmakers approve using $8.5 million for criminal justice overhaul” 10 August 2018. Retrieved from https://www.nola.com/news/politics/article_8246efdb-f22e-57b5-94d8-ce72b23fa3cd.html