Louisiana lawmakers unite on criminal justice overhaul
BATON ROUGE - In a session mired by feuds over the budget and taxes and a divisive debate over Confederate monuments, Louisiana's Democratic governor and Republican legislative leaders shared one major achievement: uniting their parties to overhaul the state's notoriously harsh approach to the sentencing and rehabilitation of criminals.
Surrounded by a bipartisan group of beaming lawmakers, Gov. John Bel Edwards signed 10 bills on Thursday that he said make up the "most extensive, complete package of criminal justice reform" in the state's history.
The governor says the reforms should enable Louisiana to relinquish its unwanted status as the "incarceration capital of the world."
The new laws expand probation and parole opportunities and shrink sentences, mainly for non-violent offenders. They also ease financial burdens inmates face upon release. Lawmakers hope these and other changes will make it less likely that ex-offenders will return to lives of crime.