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Louisiana lawmakers considering criminal justice reform bills

The state of Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the United States. Some believe this is a point of pride. No one can say that Louisiana isn’t tough on crime. But does being tough on crime actually result in less of it?

Perhaps the goal should be getting smart on crime rather than tough on crime.
This was the sentiment recently spoken by Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who helped his state enact sweeping criminal justice reform. Other states in the South would follow, including Georgia and recently, Mississippi. It may be time for Louisiana to consider a new approach.

State legislators are currently considering one sentencing reform bill and there may be more on the way. Currently, Louisiana tends to follow a “three strikes” model for repeat offenders. In many cases, subsequent convictions result in harsher punishments and longer sentences. If passed, Senate Bill 383 would treat second offenses differently if 10 years have passed between the end of a first sentence the conviction for a second offense. Offenders who were able to stay on the straight and narrow for a decade might be given the option of probation for a second offense.

Reform advocates are essentially trying to find ways to make sentencing more appropriate to the crimes for which individuals have been convicted. Locking up non-violent drug offenders, for instance, is arguably a waste of taxpayer money and could also make it harder for these offenders to rejoin society after their sentence has been served.

Criminal justice reform is a lengthy and complex discussion. But as neighboring states have shown, it is a discussion worth having. If handled appropriately, reform efforts could result in a more humane approach to dealing with crime while saving millions in taxpayer dollars.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "For Louisiana criminal justice reform, the time is now: James Varney," James Varney, April 1, 2014

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Meet Attorney Guillory

Attorney Joshua S. Guillory was born in Alexandria, Louisiana. Upon graduating high school from Alexandria Senior High, he enrolled in classes at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree. Josh was a member of Mu Kappa Tau, a national honor society for marketing majors, while attending... Read More

Joshua S. Guillory

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