Governor Bobby Jindal signed HB 994 by Rep. Joseph Lopinto into law today. The bill is part of the Governor's 2012 legislative package and was a policy proposal recommended last year by the Louisiana Sentencing Commission.
The bill simplifies the calculation of diminution of sentence, or "good time," that non-violent, non-sex offense offenders can earn while they are in jail. Revising the calculation will allow all parties to know exactly when an offender could be released from jail. This bill revises the calculation so that good time is earned at the rate of 1.5 days for every 1 day in jail.
Governor Jindal said, "This new law is a continuation of our efforts to concentrate our resources on punishing violent criminals and reforming non-violent offenders, while upholding our number one priority -- protecting our communities and families from crime."
In 2010, prisoners convicted of non-violent offenses made up over 45 percent of the state's prison population. Over 70 percent of the prison admissions in calendar year 2009 were for drug or property offenses. This large number of non-violent offenders has resulted in a state prison system with a high percentage of potentially low-risk, non-violent, non-sex offense offenders who are now taking up bed space and consuming resources that should be used to target violent, high-risk criminals and fund other top priorities such as re-entry facilities and probation and parole supervision.
This bill will create savings that will allow the state to reinvest in top priorities such as re-entry programming and other programs aimed at reducing the recidivism rate -- which is the end goal of Louisiana's corrections system.