Louisiana addresses prison problems

BATON ROUGE, La -- - Crowded prisons symbolize  the state of Louisiana's  prison problems.

Too many people. Too little money.

The biggest hurdle, once prisoners get out, how do we keep them out?

The answer could save tax payers over $300 million over the next decade.

"I'm confident that now is the time and the only reason now is the time is because we didn't do it last year or the year before," Governor John Bel Edwards said.

After studying the justice system for a year, a special state task force revealed its findings Thursday. All designed to reduce the prison population.

Edwards has says that we don't just have the worst incarceration rate in the country. We might have the worst in the world.
 
West Monroe police chief Jeff Terrell agrees that prisons are filling up with people who might not belong there.

"We deal with these people especially people with mental health problems that don't necessarily or probably shouldn't be in jail but because of the way things work the lack of mental health treatment facilities that's where they end up," Terrell said.

A bulk of these returning prisoners serving long sentences for non-violent crimes.
 
James LeBlanc, of the Louisiana Department of Corrections, is focused on making sure inmates don't return once they are released.
 
"It's not letting people out of prison this is about people not coming back and as we know 95% of the people that come to prison are coming back to our communities," LeBlanc said.
 
Chief Justice, Bernette Johnson, gives a prime example on why they justice system must make some adjustments.
 
"A defendant in New Orleans who had some drug convictions was convicted for stealing a pair of five dollar tennis shoes in New Orleans from a dollar general store," Johnson said.
 
You will never guess how much that one inmate is costing taxpayers.
 
"The state of Louisiana has spent 665 thousand dollars to incarcerate this one defendant for a five dollar offense now we've got to be smarter than this."
 
District Attorney Steve Tew tells us these  recommendations could amend 540 of Louisiana's criminal laws. 
 
Solutions have been presented.
 
Now the real work begins.
 
 

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