corrections

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On a per-capita basis, Louisiana leads the nation in the number of people behind bars. A diverse group of business and religious leaders have come together to support laws that could lower the state’s incarceration rates.

In this latest installment of the continuing WWNO and WYES series on criminal justice reform, Marcia Kavanaugh looks into how the Louisiana Smart on Crime initiative fared in this past legislative session.

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

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."

Bart Everson / Flickr

Lawyers for the city of New Orleans and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman have reached an agreement, for now, on how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to reform the city’s violent jail.

The sheriff’s office is under federal court order to improve conditions at the jail.

Today’s agreement covers about one-quarter of nearly $1.9 million provided last year for extra security, medical workers and pay raises for staff at the current jail.

The remaining money will be used to look at numerous other issues, like plans for a new jail set to open later this year.

Digital Archaeology / CoDiFi via Flickr

Many lawmakers around the nation have adopted the “get tough on crime” slogan in the last 25 years. But Louisiana took it to heart, perhaps more so than anywhere else.

Without question, Louisiana leads the country in the percentage of its residents imprisoned. The rate is twice as high as the national average. In fact, the state’s figures are close to the worst in the world, inviting comparisons to countries like North Korea.

msppmoore / Flickr

A Louisiana man has been released from death row after serving almost 30 years behind bars. New information shows he was not involved in the murder of a Shreveport jeweler in 1983.

Louisiana Department of Corrections officials have conducted a shakedown raid at a Covington work-release facility that houses state inmates.

The facility's director said 19 inmates were sent back to St. Tammany Parish Jail for violating state regulations.

Director Lester Mitchell said Sunday morning's shakedown was the second at the facility in the last two weeks.

msppmoore / Flickr

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.

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