WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) spoke on the Senate floor this week about the devastating impact of Gov. John Bel Edwards’ so-called criminal justice reform program on crime victims and, in particular, one Louisiana family.
“I am so sorry that a family lost a child to the reckless actions of a drunk driver. I’m even more sorry that the drunk driver served a minimal amount of time in prison because of Gov. Edwards’ criminal release program. This is just one example of how this program is failing families across Louisiana, and it should serve as a warning,” said Sen. Kennedy.
Gary Prince, of Loreauville, wrote to Sen. Kennedy about his devastation after his son’s killer was released early from prison through Gov. Edwards’ program. Prince’s son, Jordan, was just 18 years old when King Ellis, whose blood alcohol level was double the legal limit, drove the wrong way on Highway 90 near New Iberia and crashed into Jordan’s car. The head-on collision killed Jordan, who had just graduated from high school.
Ellis served just 18 months of his 15-year prison sentence. He received an early release despite being arrested on Medicaid fraud charges while in prison.
Here is an excerpt of Mr. Prince’s letter to Sen. Kennedy:
“My son was a good kid! He had a bright future! He wanted to follow in my footsteps and become a machinist … My family deserves better than this. I want you to know that when I say my prayers at night, I pray for a better Louisiana.”
Letter from Gary Prince to Senator Kennedy
Dear Senator Kennedy,
My name is Gary Prince and my youngest son Jordan was killed by a drunk driver in May of 2015. He was only 18 years old and had just graduated high school 12 days before this accident. The man that killed him was driving the wrong way on Highway 90 near New Iberia and crashed into my son head on. His blood alcohol level was .16 which is twice the State's legal limit. He was sent to jail on March 23, 2017 with a sentence of 15 years which 8 years was suspended. Because of John Bel Edward's Justice Reinvestment Initiative, this person that killed my son was released on September 11th of this year. He served only 18 months in jail! This blows my mind!
Because the blood alcohol level was not high enough (below .20) his offense was considered a non-violent offense which made him eligible for early release. There is a state law (RS 14:32.1) which states that anyone convicted of DUI w/vehicular homicide with a blood alcohol level of .15 or greater has to spend a minimum of 5 years with or without hard labor without the benefit of early release or early parole.
This was not taken into account for this criminal!
I just wanted to tell you that I listened to you on The Moon Griffon Show yesterday and I feel the same way you do. I am terrified of the direction that my State is heading in! I do love Louisiana, but we need change and we need it fast!
My son was a good kid! He had a bright future! He wanted to follow in my footsteps and become a machinist! I've worked hard all my life in the oil business and I pay my taxes! I feel that my family deserves better than this! I want you to know that when I say my prayers at night, I pray for a better Louisiana. A Louisiana that is governed by someone that cares about its’ people and steers it towards a brighter tomorrow and not by someone who opens up terrible wounds and horrible memories like the ones my family has all because of dumb decisions!
I really hope that you consider running for Governor in 2019! We need this craziness in Baton Rouge to end!
Thanks for Listening!
With Warmest Regards,
Gary L. Prince