WASHINGTON, DC (WAFB) - Thursday, Governor John Bel Edwards joined President Donald Trump and other governors, as well as White House staff members, for a round table discussion on the positive impact criminal justice reform is having across the country.
Edwards shared with Trump the bipartisan reform legislation he signed into law in 2017.
"In Louisiana, we're proud of the work we've done. It's been sentencing reform, prison reform, and a real focus on reentry and for the first time in 20 years, I can tell you Louisiana does not have the highest incarceration rate in the nation today," said Edwards.
After the meeting, Edwards gave Trump a letter detailing the successes of the state's efforts. Some highlights from that letter include:
- For nearly 20 years, Louisiana was known as the nation’s incarceration capital. Our imprisonment rate was nearly double the national average. We were spending roughly $700 million annually on corrections, more than any other line item except education and healthcare, but our communities were not safer for it.
- With the technical support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, we convened a bipartisan task force and spent a year scrutinizing our correctional policies and practices. In June of 2017, I signed into law the most expansive criminal justice reform package in Louisiana’s history…Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, as well as the business and religious community, came together to pass these historic reforms.
- The reentry programming services at Louisiana State Penitentiary are key examples of how we plan to utilize the savings from our reforms to better prepare those being released from our prison system. In fact, the first year savings is dedicated specifically to the five parishes that generate nearly 50 percent of Louisiana’s prison admissions.
Click here to read the full letter.
Not all agree with Edwards however, that the reforms are working. Senator John Kennedy has been outspoken about his disagreements with the governor on this issue.
Others in attendance at the meeting include:
- Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Kentucky
- Gov. Phil Bryant, R-Mississippi
- Gov. Nathan Deal, R-Georgia
- Gov. Doug Burgum, R-North Dakota
- AG Ken Paxton, R-Texas
- AG Pam Bondi, R-Florida
- Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta
- Energy Secretary Rick Perry
- Jared Kushner
- Other White House staffers