[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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OCT 1 Bobby Jindal is sure doing his best to court the far right; this post on TIME magazine says he'll be over in Oklahoma today to stand beside the billionaires who own Hobby Lobby while they announce a Bible "museum." In Washington D.C. (Wonder if there will be an exhibit on Matthew 19:24?)
OCT 1 Blogger Ian McGibboney is taking a look at the penalty call that is causing a stir. During a Monday NFL game, a player for the Chiefs executed a Muslim prayer gesture following a touchdown. The NFL has announced that the call was wrong, but Ian's not so sure.
OCT 1 Looks like hoards of whining college students and (extremely unflattering) satire can make a difference: The Advocate reports here that lease talks have reopened for Highland Coffees, a coffee shop near the north gates of LSU. Earlier this week, dismay was unleashed when the paper reported that the shop would be closing because its landlord had other plans for the space.
OCT 1 Blogger Mike Deshotels is outlining the flaws he sees in the so-called "Value Added Model" of teacher evaluation. It basically seeks to pay teachers according to how their students do on tests. (Sure hope they don't start using that model for doctors!) He's got a lot of information here, not just about the plan but about the people involved - and their history.
OCT 1 Columnist Jim Beam breaks down the difference between ISIS and ISIL, along with origins of each group and what has been reported about them over the years. It's a good clear primer if you're one of those continually confused by the names being thrown around.
OCT 1 Blogger Tom Aswell brings us up to date on the latest mess surrounding the Office of Group Benefits, which handles health insurance for state employees. It ain't pretty, and it has left Tom pleading for anyone who might be remotely competent in the Division of Administration to get in touch with him.
OCT 1 Look out! Some enterprising individual, who knows how to register a domain, has pulled off a stunning bit of hilarity here. Not long ago, blogger Lamar White Jr. gave us a post on Louisiana Family Forum, and how it is not a charity but is instead a tax shelter for a lobby. If you go to the interwebs and type in "louisianafamilyforum.com" you will find Lamar's story. Heh.
SEP 30 Here's another story that makes Louisiana look backward; blogger Manny Schewitz writes about a church that won't allow AA to use its facilities because those boozers might track in some gay. Every time he sees one of these, as he calls them "Whiskey Tango Foxtrot" type of stories, he always starts wishing: "Please don't let it be Louisiana... Please don't let it be Louisiana..."
SEP 30 This post on PoliticusUSA, an extremely liberal blog, takes aim at Bobby Jindal's disingenuous attempts to play both sides against the middle on the evolution/creationism issue. Jindal is "dutifully serving his Koch masters" on the climate change issue as well, blogger Rmuse writes.
SEP 30 Ever wonder what goes on in a football locker room following a game like Sunday's embarrassment? Here's a post on ESPN about the "reality check" the Saints had. Among the comments: "Right now we're not a very good football team."
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