Public Safety in Louisiana
With one in 55 adults behind bars as of 2008, Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration of any state in the United States—nearly double the national average. In order to house this population, prison spending in the state jumped from $106 to $548 million between 1983 and 2008. Despite this huge increase, Louisiana's violent crime rate remains one of the highest in the country.
In January 2010, Governor Bobby Jindal and other state leaders announced the launch of an effort to find cost-effective public safety solutions. With assistance from the Vera Institute of Justice, in partnership with Pew and the U.S. Department of Justice, the state sentencing commission analyzed data, audited corrections and community supervision policies, and consulted stakeholders to develop policy recommendations.
"These reforms will help make our criminal justice system operate more efficiently while also continuing to uphold our number one priority - protecting our communities and families from violence."
—Governor Bobby Jindal
This intensive effort led to a series of legislative reforms that were enacted in Louisiana's 2011 and 2012 legislative sessions and signed into law by Governor Jindal. These bills revise and simplify “good time” and earned time statutes; expand parole eligibility for first and second-time offenders; allow for the waiver of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent offenders if the prosecutor, defense counsel and judge agrees; establish administrative sanctions for parole and probation violations; and expand Louisiana's reentry courts. They are projected to save Louisiana over $243 million over 10 years.