Edwards unveils criminal justice reform agenda
BATON ROUGE – Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards announced part of his legislative agenda for the upcoming legislative session.
In a statement released Thursday, Edwards’s office says it plans to tackle criminal justice reform and strengthen community policing standards.
Edwards claims that implementing the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force’s recommendations would reduce the state prison population by 13 percent and save taxpayers $305 million.
“While Louisiana is the incarceration capital of the world, I refuse to believe that our people are inherently more sinister than in other parts of the world,” said Gov. Edwards. “For too long this has been a drain on our state resources and done little to make our cities and towns more secure.”
The governor’s office says it will be releasing Edward’s full legislative agenda throughout the week. More information about the criminal justice reform and community policing agenda can be found here.
The governor’s criminal justice legislative agenda includes:
Implementing a felony class system, targeted penalties for lower-level nonviolent offenses – Senate President John Alario (R-District 8)
- Implement Felony Class System
- Revise Drug Penalties to Target Higher-Level Drug Offenses
- Consolidate Laws on Property Crimes and Raise the Value Threshold for Felony Charges
- Distinguish Penalties Relative to Weapons Offenses and Severity of Underlying Crime
Habitual Offender Bill – Senate President Alario (R-District 8)
- Focus Habitual Offender Penalties on More Serious Crimes
- Reduce Cleansing Period for Certain Prior Crimes
Implementing best practices in release and community supervision – Sen. Danny Martiny (R-District 10)
- Establish Back-End Release Mechanism for Non-Violent Offenses
- Expand Alternatives to Incarceration
- Establish a Temporary Furlough Policy for Inmates with Serious Medical Needs
- Expand Incentives for Inmates to Participate in Recidivism Reducing Programming
- Streamline Parole Release
- Focus Community Supervision on the Highest-Risk Period and Establish Earned Compliance Credit Incentive
- Address Gaps and Deficiencies in Swift, Certain, and Proportional Sanctions
- Provide the Opportunity for Parole Consideration to Some of Louisiana’s Longest-Serving Inmates
Mitigating the collateral consequences of felony convictions – Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits – Rep. Helena Moreno (D-District 93)
- Eliminate the restriction for those with drug convictions from receiving SNAP benefits during their first year following release from prison
Mitigating the collateral consequences of felony convictions – Licensing boards – Rep. Julie Emerson (R-District 39)
- Improve the current licensing board requirements to require full professional licensure to qualified applicants rather than provisional licenses, to eliminate waiting periods for license applications, and to prohibit discrimination in licensure based on underlying violent or sex offenses, except where the profession is specifically relevant to the nature of the crime.
Mitigating the collateral consequences of felony convictions – Child support Payments During Incarceration – Rep. Joe Marino (I-District 85)
- Suspend Child Support During Incarceration
Data Collection + Reinvestment – Rep. Walt Leger (D-District 91)
- Mandate Data Collection and Tracking of Performance Measures to Monitor Implementation and Outcomes of Justice Reinvestment Reforms
- Reinvest More than 50% of Savings From Reduction in State Prisoner Population
Ensuring that criminal justice debt is not a barrier to reentry – Rep. Tanner Magee (R-District 53)
- Tailor Criminal Justice Financial Obligations to Person’s Ability to Pay
- Modify Penalties for Failure to Pay Criminal Justice Financial Obligations
Victim Notification – Rep. Stephen Dwight (R-District 35)
- Improve and Streamline Victim Notification
Juvenile Life without Parole – Sen. Dan Claitor (R-District 16)
- Provide Parole Eligibility to Certain Inmates Sentenced to Life Without Parole as a Juvenile
The governor’s community policing standards legislative agenda includes:
Enhanced Law Enforcement Training Requirements – Reps. Ted James (D-District 101) and Katrina Jackson (D-District 16)
- Strengthens training requirements for the Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training (P.O.S.T.), to include requiring the development and implementation curriculum for de-escalation, bias policing recognition, sudden in-custody deaths, and crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers and provides grounds for revocation of P.O.S.T. certification.
Enhancing the Louisiana Uniform Law Enforcement Statewide Reporting Database – Reps. Jimmy Harris (D-District 99) and Katrina Jackson (D-District 16)
- Provide enhanced reporting to the Louisiana Uniform Law Enforcement Reporting Database to ensure the reporting of certain disciplinary action