This article by Daniel Erspamer, Right on Crime Signatory and CEO of the Pelican Institute for Public Policy, originally appeared in Shreveport Times, October 17th, 2017.

Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator’s recent comments about the release of certain prisoners from parish jails beginning Nov. 1 reflect what seems to be a lack of understanding among many people who oppose the bi-partisan criminal justice reforms initiated by the state legislature earlier this year.

Our reforms were modeled on successful efforts in other states that have demonstrably improved public safety, reduced crime and recidivism, and saved taxpayer money all at the same time. It is important that the public understand the facts of Louisiana’s reforms and why they are important.

First, contrary to what some have implied, those slated for early release are limited to individuals convicted of non-violent, non-sex offenses.

Second, individuals being released through these reforms are only leaving detention facilities, on average, about two months earlier than they would have had the reforms not been implemented, and, according to the Louisiana Department of Corrections, each one will have undergone reentry training before being released.

Third, these reforms were supported by a diverse coalition of conservative and liberal policy leaders, the business community and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, among others, all of whom came together to craft policies that we could all support.

It is essential to acknowledge that Louisiana currently has the highest imprisonment rate in the country. Our jails are overcrowded, and lengths of sentences in Louisiana are far greater than every other state, with taxpayers bearing the sky-rocketing costs.

Clearly, what Louisiana has been doing for decades does not work and is out of sync with the policies of our neighboring states, which have reduced recidivism, rehabilitated former prisoners and saved taxpayer money.

Since Louisiana has committed to these important reforms, we hope and expect leaders from across the state will work in good faith to implement these badly needed changes. Louisiana deserves a better return on investment than it has been getting, and we’re now executing a proven plan to do just that.

Working together, we can make our state a better place to live, work, and raise a family, and these reforms are a strong start.