Prison Reform

If someone asked you what country has the highest prisoner population per capita in the world, you would probably think of North Korea, Iran, or somewhere like Venezuela, but you would be wrong. The answer is the United States, and Louisiana is second in the nation in mass prison incarceration. As a matter of fact, we incarcerate 5x more people than Iran. Over 100,000 people in the State of Louisiana are under the control of a jail, prison, parole officer, or probation officer. A supermajority of people stuck in the correctional system did not commit a violent crime. Our draconian, un-American warehousing of our citizens must end. We must eliminate mandatory sentencing, reduce penalties for victimless and non-violent crimes, and pursue federal funding for rehabilitative programs.

 

FACTS:

  • Louisiana sends people to prison for non-violent crimes at a rate 2x that of neighboring states.
  • Over the last decade, Louisiana has partially transitioned to using private prisons.
  • Over the last decade, Louisiana has increased the number of men and women going to prison by nearly 50% while substantially decreasing prison alternatives.
  • Louisiana spends nearly $500 million a year on prisons, but $0 on pre-trial diversion programs.
  • From 2010 through 2015, the average sentence length for non-violent prisoners went from 44.5 months to 54.4 months. During that same period, private prisons became a factor.
  • Louisiana has a program that allows inmates to take classes to reduce the time prisoner’s spend behind bars called Certified Treatment and Rehabilitative Programming (CTRP), but local facilities like parish jails only have an average of 9 available CTRP classes. The lack of classes equals more extended prison stays and a higher recidivism rate in our jails.
  • In 2016 Louisiana downgraded the Winn and Allen prisons to jails to reduce costs. The move reduced staffing by 100 and cut rehabilitative services to over 2,800 prisoners.

 

SOLUTIONS:

  1. We stop imprisoning more people per capita than China, Iran, and Venezuela.
  2. We must demand federal funding for new jail programs aimed at reducing recidivism. Our goal should not be to aimlessly cage citizens, but rather for people to emerge from our prisons and jails with the skills needed to become productive members of society. It is time for us to stop wasting money on housing inmates and get a return on our investment by sending people to work instead of back to prison.
  3. Federal law should prohibit private prisons! A private enterprise has absolutely zero incentive to rehabilitate prisoners. More prisoners = more of your tax money going to a private company out of state!

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