Some red states like Louisiana and Texas have emerged as leaders in a new movement: to divert offenders from prisons and into drug treatment, work release and other incarceration alternatives.
By most counts, Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. In recent years, sentencing reformers in the capital, Baton Rouge, have loosened some mandatory minimum sentences and have made parole slightly easier for offenders to get.
But as reformers in Louisiana push for change, they're also running into stiffening resistance — especially from local prosecutors.
WYES continues its ongoing initiative exploring progress rebuilding a safer, stronger, smarter city post-Katrina.
The WWNO/ WYES series on Orleans Criminal Justice System reform takes an in-depth look into the NOPD and Orleans Parish Jail federal consent decrees in this report by WYES Community Projects Producer, Marcia Kavanaugh.
The one hour video was produced by Paula Pendarvis, narrated by WYES Community Projects Producer Marcia Kavanaugh, with editing and creative direction by WYES producer Tom Gregory.
If you can’t get lethal injection drugs, how do you impose the death penalty?
"We have the death sentence. Whether some of you agree with that or disagree with it, that's what we have,” said House Criminal Justice committee chairman Joe Lopinto. “If we're going to have that we need to be able, as a state, to follow through with that order."
The state corrections department says the only way it can lower heat levels on Louisiana's death row to a federal judge's requirements is by installing air conditioning.
U.S. District Judge Brian Jackson ruled in December that death row gets so hot it violates U.S. constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment. He demanded a plan to cool the cells so the heat index never goes above 88 degrees.
Windows and fans are currently the primary sources of ventilation on death row.
Gov. Bobby Jindal's administration is doing a poor job making sure the prevention and diversion programs it uses are helping to keep children out of youth prisons.
That's the finding of an audit released Monday by Legislative Auditor Daryl Purpera's office that looked at the state's Office of Juvenile Justice.
The audit says OJJ doesn't gather enough information from its contractors to adequately monitor programs that are supposed to provide treatment options for children and teenagers who have behavioral problems or who have been charged with misdemeanor crimes.