BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A change in state laws could be good news for offenders and the state, according to a new study. The study claims mandatory minimum sentences are clogging the prison system. However, this change could benefit both sides.
Louisiana remains number one in the county when it comes to the incarceration rate; with about nine out of every 1,000 residents behind bars. In spite of this, the Pelican Institute's Report says Louisiana still has the highest violent crime rate in the country. The report suggests ending mandatory minimum prison sentences for non-violent crimes.
Pete Adams of the Louisiana District Attorney's Association says he is willing to take a look at the proposal.
"The District Attorneys are, for well over a decade now, has had a position that we're not against the repeal of mandatory minimums on non-violent crimes that are truly non-violent crimes," said Pete Adams with the Louisiana District Attorney Association.
Baton Rouge Representative Pat Smith says she plans to introduce legislation that would eliminate mandatory minimums.
"Judges don't have discretion on being able to give a sentence to an individual because they are mandated to give a certain number of years to an individual on a particular crime. But mandatory sentences keep individuals in prison longer and that's something that we have to definitely look at because the population is growing," said Representative Smith.
Adams says the D.A.'s Association wants to see any proposal before it gets to the legislature.
"When we get a proposal we'll look at it and evaluate the proposal in general then we will look specifically at, but we haven't seen anything like that," said Adams.
From a law enforcement prospective, Baton Rouge Police Chief Carl Dabadie says things are fine like they are.
"Mandatory sentences were put in place for a reason and it was as a deterrent. And we would like, or I would think we would like, to keep that in place as a deterrent to keep people from committing the crimes over and over again," said Dabadie.
Given the conservative attitude of Louisiana voter, any proposal to eliminate the mandatory minimum should generate a lot of discussion at the Capitol.
The state has what is known as a sentencing commission, which is where any reforms would be initiated.
For a summary of the report, click here: http://reason.org/studies/show/sentencing-reforms-louisiana