Lawmaker proposes bill that would allow parents to serve jail sentence at home

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - One Baton Rouge legislator says there should be an alternative to prison when it comes to parents.

Democrat Pat Smith is filing a bill in the upcoming session that would allow primary care givers who commit crimes a home-based sentence option instead of going to jail. That could include going to rehab or other community-based facilities. She says it's about keeping families together.

The full bill can be read here.

Advocates say 1 in 12 kids across Louisiana have a parent behind bars, which they say can cause mental and behavioral issues down the road.

"Women make a difference in the livelihood of their children, and if we don't find ways for them to connect with their children, then we are doing a disservice to not only the children, but to the families of these children," said Smith.

"No longer can we lock our people up without making sure that the children leaving behind are properly cared for," said Fox Rich, a former inmate.

The bill would launch a pilot program in the New Orleans area. It would be up to the judge to decide whether the accused should have a chance at life beyond bars. If the crime is against the child, they would not qualify for program.

The regular legislative session starts Monday, March 12.

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