WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) voiced concerns today about the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act. Those concerns include the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Correction’s ability to competently administer it. Under the act, Louisiana began releasing inmates in November in order to lower populations at prisons across the state. Included in the release were career criminals who have already committed additional crimes and are back in jail.
“Regardless of what you think about the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act, I have zero confidence in the ability of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections to administer it in a way that protects the people of Louisiana from violent criminals,” said Sen. Kennedy. “With its numerous scandals over the past couple of years, the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections’ leadership has repeatedly shown that it is unfit to administer such a program, especially one that puts career criminals back on the streets. Gov. Edwards needs to give serious consideration to suspending the inmate releases and fixing the problems at Public Safety and Corrections first instead of emptying out the prisons.”
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Sen. Kennedy notes that:
The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office found that the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections violated public bid laws by embarking on a $6.3 million building renovation for Prison Enterprises without seeking bids. The work went to department head Jimmy
- LeBlanc’s colleagues and his niece’s husband. Read More.
- WBRZ-TV in Baton Rouge caught the department allowing inmates convicted of violent crimes and sex offenses to repeatedly leave prison to play music at nursing homes and interact with children at a park. When confronted, the department said it made a mistake. Read More.
- Allegations of nepotism, fraud, and theft have been leveled against numerous wardens and senior administrators. Read More.
- Former Louisiana State Police Supt. Col. Mike Edmonson was caught sneaking an unconstitutional, $300,000 retirement boost for himself and a colleague through the Louisiana Legislature. Read More.
- State troopers took an unauthorized road trip to Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon on Louisiana taxpayers’ dime. They spent thousands of taxpayer dollars and kept their jobs. Read More.
- State Police insisted that a motorcycle patrolman making $147,000 a year in overtime worked every single hour he claimed. WVUE-TV had to conduct surveillance that caught the trooper at home when he was supposed to be working before any action was taken. Read More.
The Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act calls for DOC to review Louisiana’s prison population for early release opportunities in order to cut costs. The savings will allow Louisiana officials to continue their spending sprees. Already, 1,900 inmates have been released with more due to be freed every month.
The releases are happening even though:
- The Louisiana Legislative Auditor’s Office found that DOC can’t keep proper tabs on where inmates are located even when they’re under lock and key at a parish prison. DOC also often calculates release dates incorrectly. Read More.
- DOC blew $3.6 million on an updated inmate tracking system. The department used the new system for six weeks before abandoning it. Read More.
- Released inmates already are being rearrested, including:
- A 24-year-old man who has been arrested more than 60 times and walked out of prison early last month because of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act. He promptly robbed two roofers at gunpoint. Police tracked him down after residents saw him pulling on car door handles in Kenner. Read More.
- A Winn Parish man who was out for a week before he was rearrested. His own mother turned him in, saying he’s a career criminal who refuses to get a job. Winn Parish Sheriff Cranford Jordan said the release program has no structure. Read More.