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Bill passes Louisiana House bringing hope for habitual offenders

The Louisiana House passed a bill that would allow inmates considered habitual offenders serving a life sentence the possibility of parole, according to Baton Rouge State Representative Patricia Smith. The bill, which passed the House by an 86-7 vote, brings hope for inmates convicted of "victimless" crimes, such as repeat theft or drug charges and who have been sentenced to life in prison. It would not apply to those convicted of violent crimes or sex offenses, however.

The Louisiana State Department of Corrections supports the bill. The Warden at the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola told lawmakers early in the session that he backs the legislation as a way to address overcrowding in the state's prisons.

The bill calls for inmates to exhibit good behavior, complete necessary drug or alcohol abuse programs and take advantage of educational opportunities and obtain at the very minimum a high school equivalency diploma. The bill would only make them eligible for parole - inmates would still be required to appear before the parole board before they could be released from prison.

The bill is structured in such a way that inmates would be required to serve a set number of years before becoming eligible for parole and that number would depend on their age at the time of incarceration. For example, someone incarcerated between the ages of 18-years and 25-years-old would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years in prison. Someone 50 years or older would be required to serve 10 years before becoming eligible for parole.

Lafayette State Representative Terry Landry, who once headed the Louisiana State Police, said he favors the bill after spending most of his adult life in the criminal justice system. Although he considers himself tough on crime, he said it is not working because we're building prisons faster than ever. Another supporter of the bill said there are enough safeguards built into the bill, including the requirement of good behavior. The bill now heads to the State Senate.

Source: The Advocate, "Habitual offender measure advances to Senate," Michelle Millhollon, April 21, 2012

1 Comment

My son was convited of simple burgular and he had a 2 stricks but they charge him with abutiual offender he has been incarsrated from age 24 with 13 years will he fall under the obutiual offender new law. After serving 9 years.

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