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Louisiana criminal justice revamp edges closer to passage

3 weeks 3 days 15 hours ago May 31, 2017 May 31, 2017 Wednesday, May 31 2017 May 31, 2017 1:46 PM in News
Source: Associated Press

BATON ROUGE - Governor John Bel Edwards' goal of significantly reducing Louisiana's incarceration rate is closer to reality after some of the package's more controversial proposals passed a tough test.

The House criminal justice committee approved three Senate-backed bills Wednesday to expand probation and parole opportunities and shrink sentences for offenders, mainly those jailed for non-violent crimes.

"The passage of these criminal justice reform bills marks an important step in our work to safely reduce the state’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate,” Edwards said. “It’s time to start getting a better return on our investment when it comes to public safety because we have been hemorrhaging money on a system with a very high failure rate for too long. "

The proposals head to the House floor for debate, bolstered after Edwards reached a compromise with district attorneys.

Committee chairman Rep. Sherman Mack sought to derail a measure to allow some first-time violent offenders to be eligible for parole earlier. Despite Mack's opposition, Sen. Danny Martiny's proposal advanced with a 10-6 vote.

Bills to decrease drug sentences and lower minimum sentences for habitual offenders passed without objection.

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