[UPDATE: The state Senate, a day after it rejected a measure to increase parole options for some prison lifers, about-faced Tuesday and approved House Bill 543 with a 23-12 vote. According to The Advocate, Democratic state Sen. Elbert Guillory of Opelousas is among the four lawmakers who changed their votes.]
Louisiana will continue to hold the title of the “world’s prison capital” following a state Senate vote Monday that killed the chance for nonviolent felons serving life sentences under the state’s habitual offender law to be granted freedom.
The Senate voted 19-18 against House Bill 543, according to The Advocate, with two of the nay votes coming from the Acadiana delegation. State sens. Page Cortez, R-Lafayette, and Elbert Guillory, D-Opelousas, voted against the prisoner reform bill:
The state Senate was the last stop in the legislative process for the proposal, which breezed through the House and a Senate committee. A favorable vote would have sent the bill to the governor’s desk.
The Legislature passed a law in 1996 allowing offenders convicted of three felonies to receive life sentences. He said legislators later changed the law to ensure it only applies to violent crimes. Left in prison ... are those sentenced to life in prison for nonviolent felonies before the law changed.
State law prohibits inmates serving life in prison from being eligible for parole, unless their sentences are commuted to a fixed number of years.
HB543 would lift the prohibition on parole eligibility for offenders not convicted of violent or sex-related crimes. The offenders still would have to go before the Parole Board for a decision on their release applications.
Under the bill, inmates would have to behave behind bars, complete any necessary substance abuse treatment and obtain the equivalency of a high school diploma or other educational offerings. The legislation would only make them eligible for parole.
The legislation would exclude sex offenders and those convicted of violent crimes.
The move comes only a week after The Times-Picayune unveiled “Louisiana Incarcerated,” an eight-part investigative series on the state of Louisiana’s prisons that explains in detail the profit-driven business of Louisiana’s prisons and the laws on the books that contribute to the state’s obscene incarceration rate.
As noted by state Sen. J.P. Morrell, D-New Orleans, the bill was a “reasonable” attempt to curb the state’s status as the “incarceration capital of the universe.”
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AUG 29 Everyone who cares about Louisiana should take time to peruse this story about coastal loss from Bob Marshall of The Lens. It's not enough to call it a story; it's an interactive experience packed with data and amazing graphics, timelines, history, photos and excellent writing. Set aside some time, because you can't go through this one in a few minutes.
JUN 29 This bizarre story from the Advocate on the shooting of a Baton Rouge television personality reads like the script of a soap opera - but not a good one. The allegations against him include sexual abuse of children, including the alleged shooter, and a sham immigration marriage involving his own daughter. The other side? He was a chaplin for the Sheriff's Office in Baton Rouge and preached in a local church.
AUG 29 Here's a story from CBS News about a killer amoeba found in the water system of St. John the Baptist Parish. The story made all three networks (CBS, ABC, NBC) as well as Fox "News," although they have not yet found out how it is Obama's fault. Seriously, the good news is that so far officials know of no one sickened by the water.
AUG 29 Huffington Post has a blog called Love Letters, which is grandly described as "an anthology of reflections on places the world over." This entry is from LSU Football Coach Les Miles, who, it appears, loves Baton Rouge. (Of course he does; he's a rich straight white man.) And certainly Baton Rouge loves him - unless he loses (ask Curley "Golden Flake" Hallman about that) or leaves (ask Nick Saban).
AUG 29 Blogger Bob Mann comments here upon Governor Bobby Jindal's federal lawsuit about Common Core. Mann calls it a "thinly veiled campaign document" and that might be the nicest thing he says in this post. Most troubling for Jindal and his aspirations, Mann has unearthed what Bobby said just a few years ago when he first decided to shove Common Core down our throats.
AUG 29 Blogger Tom Aswell has several developments here related to the so-called Edmonson amendment. The most entertaining one is possibly Tom's acknowledgement that a State Police official is (allegedly) calling the bloggers covering the story some colorful names. Listen up, cowboy: You really think two veterans like Tom Aswell and CB Forgotston care if you call them idiots?
AUG 29 Gotta love those journalists who write something with the enthusiasm that implies they're the first one to figure something out. Mostly, they're not. This is one of those times; the post on Slate Magazine says that Bobby Jindal's Common Core lawsuit is a political stunt. Well - Duh.
AUG 29 This story by WVLA tells us about a guy who got busted for speeding in Baton Rouge. Who cares? This guy took that infraction to new heights by going 129 miles per hour on Nicholson Drive. Poor fella - he probably has spent so much time sitting in Baton Rouge traffic he just had to cut lose.
AUG 28 As the controversy surrounding the Office of Group Benefits intensifies, blogger Tom Aswell gives us some background on the current problems. The OGB, which handles health insurance for current and retired state employees, is deep in the red since it was privatized by Jindal, and Aswell gives us the skinny: this great plan was designed by ALEC. The company handling it? Blue Cross Blue Shield of Louisiana - a longtime member of ALEC.
AUG 28 Blogger CB Forgotston has a concept for a new reality show: the wives of the "Dork Dynasty." That's the name that some troopers have given to State Police Commander Mike Edmonson and his inner circle. The ladies CB has picked for his cast are not just housewives, however, and the connections here are pretty interesting.
AUG 28 Blogger Ian McGibboney is writing about the strife in Ferguson in this post, and articulating what many people down south are saying. There's a fairy tale about how there's tons of racism in the South, but it's all hunky dory up North. (Really? Look again.)
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