[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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APR 18 So Gov. Jindal's new press secretary already has blocked blogger CB Forgotston from her Twitter account, CB tells us in this post. Sure, CB hasn't exactly been sugar sweet to the lady, but if his blogs are all it takes for her to get in a huff she better find some intestinal fortitude somewhere, because that's just the tip of the iceberg.
APR 18 Pooyie! Robert Kennedy Jr. isn't pulling any punches in this column on Huffington Post about the flood board's lawsuit against Big Oil and Bobby Jindal's involvement in efforts to kill it. Kennedy, who is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance, describes Jindal as 'genuflecting to Big Oil's pressure' and 'the industry's chief indentured servant.' Dang!
APR 18 Here's a video of UL Coach Mark Hudspeth showing he can pump some serious iron. It sure impressed the Dr. Saturday blog, which calls his press of 370 pounds a "ridiculous" number for a coach -- and opines that no other college coach could beat ours.
APR 18 Columnist John Maginnis offers some advice to Vance McAllister on this post: Don't quit. Republicans have demanded he resign, but offer no "sensible answer" to the question of why David Vitter shouldn't leave, too, he says. McAllister needs to do his duty and serve out his (abbreviated) term, Maginnis says.
APR 18 Blogger Lamar White Jr. comments upon the plan to make a Bible Louisiana's "official book" in this post. He argues his point by telling us the story of an immigrant couple who moved to Louisiana: Amar and Raj, whose oldest child is now our Governor. This action would have a much larger impact, he opines.
APR 18 There's only one major bill left defending public education, blogger Mike Deshotels writes in this post. He's also got a few choice words for state Superintendent John White, who implies that Louisiana teachers would be thrown into chaos and disarray if they didn't have a test to teach. (Maybe kids would actually get an education then? Nah!)
APR 18 An effort to set up speed cameras on the Interstate has been shut down before it even got started, columnist Stephanie Grace tells us in this post. A bill to block the practice is sailing through the legislature -- where apparently no one wants visitors to our fair state to arrive home to a ticket. (These guys must never drive on I-10 with people from Texas).
APR 18 Blogger Tom Aswell reassures everyone worried about the staffers for Rodney Alexander -- the ones who didn't go to work for McAllister or Candid Camera, anyway -- with this post. Apparently one staffer for the retired Congressman (who also worked for a preacher accused of sexual assault) already has been hired by Alexander in the state department he now runs, Aswell says.
APR 17 At the start of the Tuesday board meeting that ended with his removal from the President's post, Joe Aguillard told the governing board of Louisiana College that SACS, the accreditation agency, requires the board to adopt a confidentiality agreement regarding board actions. Later that day, SACS told the Town Talk that confidentiality agreements would never be required. Calvinist or not, isn't lying wrong?
APR 17 Here we are, looking like backwater dummies again in the national media. This story on Huffington Post tells the nation that our legislators are so scared of the Louisiana Family Forum that they won't vote to repeal a law that was ruled illegal years ago. (Guess these particular Christians don't cotton to that "love one another" thing.)
APR 17 Here's an interesting column from Paul Stanley, political opinion editor of the Christian Post. He breaks down the differences between David Vitter and Vance McAllister, in terms of political realities. What he found surprising was the fact that many GOP leaders are swinging a self-righteous sword at McAllister which had remained sheathed when Vitter's "sin" was revealed. He does have an interesting theory -- that Jindal's people want the Vitter issue to be revived.
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