It’s the first step in a comprehensive criminal justice package aimed at cutting prison populations in a state with the nation’s highest incarceration rate. Most of the prisoners being freed are serving their sentences in local parish prisons.
More than 1,900 Louisiana inmates are walking out of prisons across the state Wednesday before their sentence is completed, The Advocate reports. It’s the first step in a comprehensive criminal justice package aimed at cutting prison populations that have made Louisiana a leader for having the nation’s highest incarceration rate. Some 82 percent of prisoners being freed were serving their sentences in local parish prisons. “Most of these will be midmorning releases,” said Corrections Secretary James LeBlanc. Under the new law, nonviolent offenders are eligible for “good time” release after serving 35 percent of their sentence, down from 40 percent before the change.
In most cases, probation and parole officers already have met with the inmates and many inmates already have received prerelease services, LeBlanc said. Two of every three inmates being released are between the ages of 30 and 49. The youngest, Jaquavion Slaton, turned 18 in April and was convicted on auto theft charges. The oldest is 78-year-old Deicie Washington Jr., who was arrested in 2015 for distribution of Schedule II drugs. About 1,100 of those being released, or 57 percent of the total, are African American, two are Hispanic, one is Asian and the rest are white. Louisiana houses 35,000 inmates at any one time, even as about 18,000 are released from state prisons each year. “People are transitioning back to our communities every day,” LeBlanc said.