At the end of 2017, Governor John Bel Edwards issued an Executive Order establishing the Governor’s Justice Reinvestment Oversight Council.  The 11 council members were recently named.  I am honored to have been selected by Governor Edwards as one of the members.  Our charge as an inter-branch, bipartisan body includes:

  • Track and advise the Department of Corrections and other relevant state and local agencies on the implementation of policy changes required by the Justice Reinvestment legislation.
  • Engage criminal justice stakeholders to promote cross-agency, cross sector communication and problem solving.
  • Receive and review performance metric data from new reforms implementation and make data-informed recommendations to further safely reduce the prison population.
  • Make recommendations on the best uses for reinvestment dollars and monitor the use of those dollars. Publish an annual report on implementation progress, performance metrics, recommendations and other relevant task force activities.

In an Advocate-Baton Rouge article announcing the formation of the council, Governor Edwards was quoted:

“Now that Louisiana has started the critical and important process of reforming our criminal justice system to better protect public safety, hold offenders accountable, control costs and reinvest those savings to further improve the system, I want to make certain that the people of our state are served in the best way possible and that they have the utmost confidence in the work taking place.  We have an extraordinary opportunity, and this council will help ensure we are on the right path to achieving our goals and the reforms are producing the maximum results.”

The Executive Order calls for James LeBlanc, Secretary of Department of Corrections, to serve as chair of council with other officers to be elected by and from the membership of the council.  The remaining 10 members of the council with whom I will be working include:

  • Senator Dan Claitor, legislator from East Baton Rouge Parish, supporter and author of JRI legislation
  • John DeRosier, District Attorney of Calcasieu Parish
  • Norris Henderson, Executive Director of VOTE, a criminal justice reform advocate and returned citizen
  • District Court Judge Rusty Knight, oversees a successful Reentry Court in Washington Parish
  • Representative Terry Landry, legislator from Lafayette Parish, who was a supporter of JRI legislation
  • Representative Walt Leger, III, legislator from Orleans Parish, one of the key architects to the JRI legislation and authored reinvestment legislation
  • Senator Danny Martiny, legislator from Jefferson Parish, supporter and author of JRI legislation
  • District Judge Robert Morrison, III, from Livingston Parish
  • Michael Ranatza, Executive Director of the Louisiana Sheriffs Association
  • Stephen Toups, Senior Vice President, Turner Industries, a major industrial construction firm with locations in Louisiana, Texas and Alabama

The first meeting of the council was held recently with updates provided from the Department of Corrections on the implementation of the new laws and an overview of the implementation process being guided by the Crime and Justice Institute The DOC also provided a tentative timeline for the completion of the RFP document that will be disseminated to service providers when JRI funding is available.  The next meeting of the council is set for some time in May.