Today, Governor Bobby Jindal announced he signed five Louisiana Sentencing Commission bills into law, which will reform and improve the state's criminal justice system. These bills include SB 202 by Sen. Guillory, which enhances the pardon and parole process, HB 106 by Rep. Moreno, which improves oversight of home incarceration and electronic monitoring services, HB 414 by Rep. Lopinto, which revises and consolidates provisions governing "good time", HB 415 by Rep. Lopinto, which authorizes probation and parole officers to impose administrative sanctions and HB 416 by Rep. Lopinto, which allows certain offenders to gain parole eligibility quicker.
Governor Jindal said, "These reforms will help make our criminal justice system operate more efficiently while also continuing to uphold our number one priority -- protecting our communities and families from violence."
SB 202 by Sen. Guillory enhances the pardon and parole process to ensure members of the Pardon Board and Parole Board are equipped with the tools they need to make proper clemency decisions. This legislation adds the warden or deputy warden of the institution in which an offender is housed as an ex officio member of the Pardon Board when that offender applies for clemency. This will enhance the decision making process of the Pardon Board by adding a person who is in the best position to provide information relative to the offender's conduct while incarcerated, their institutional adjustment and program participation.
This also enhances the Parole Board by requiring the members to complete initial training upon appointment to the board and to complete eight hours of annual training consistent with courses offered by the National Institute of Corrections or the American Probation and Parole Association. Members of the Parole Board will now receive training in areas such as the parole process, use of risk assessment tools and the dynamics of criminal victimization.
Finally, this legislation authorizes the Department of Corrections to establish a validated risk and needs assessment tool. This tool will be used to guide the department, parole board and agents of the department in determining supervision management and strategies for offenders as well as case planning and treatment decisions to address criminal risk factors and reduce an offenders chance of reoffending.
HB 106 by Rep. Moreno will amend the home incarceration statute to create reporting requirements for providers of home incarceration and electronic monitoring services, so that the sentencing court, the sheriff of the parish in which the offender is placed on supervision and the Department of Corrections will be notified of the court's order and will now be able to track their use. Currently, the department has no information as to how many offenders have been sentenced to home incarceration or electronic monitoring, or data to determine the success or failure of such supervision. This legislation will give the department invaluable information and help them identify possible efficiencies for future use.
HB 414 by Rep. Lopinto revises and consolidates the provisions concerning diminution of sentence or "good time". Currently, offenders earn "good time" while incarcerated for their good behavior in jail and for participating in educational and vocational programs. However, currently, the multiple provisions governing "good time" makes it difficult for judges, prosecutors, crime victims and defendants to know exactly how much good time an offender would earn for any given sentence. This bill clarifies the provisions governing this crucial area of law in our criminal justice system in order for all stakeholders to be able to accurately determine the time an offender will serve in prison.
HB 415 by Rep. Lopinto creates the process to allow probation and parole officers to punish probationers and parolees with administrative sanctions for technical violations of their supervision conditions. Administrative sanctions will reduce recidivism and ensure better compliance with supervision conditions through quicker responses to technical violations.
HB 416 by Rep. Lopinto will allow first-time non-violent, non-sex offense, non-habitual offenders to become eligible for parole consideration at a quicker rate. Current law authorizes the Parole Board to consider such offenders after serving one-third of their sentence. This bill will allow these first-time offenders to become parole eligible upon serving 25 percent of their sentence. This legislation will produce savings to the criminal justice system over the next decade that will be reinvested into probation and parole supervision and evidence-based programs aimed at further reducing the state's recidivism rates and decreasing our offender population.