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.
Festival International de Louisiane, the annual exploration and celebration of world music in the heart of Acadiana, transformed the city of Lafayette into a five-day entertainment showcase this past week.
The free festival featured six music stages, street musicians, arts and crafts, workshops, food, drinks and much more.
"What do I like about Festival?" wondered local resident Karl Schott. "It's open. You can pop your head into a local establishment for a little A/C or a different drink. And you run into everyone you know."
It wasn't an easy road to the Tiny Desk for the four guys from Louisiana who make up Brass Bed. Their tour, for the band's debut album The Secret Will Keep You, was plagued from the start: Singer Christiaan Mader had the flu, there was a death in the family and multiple dates had to be canceled. Their van was broken into and their instruments stolen. So when they heard that a big snowstorm was headed for D.C. at the same time they were to play the Tiny Desk, it felt like yet another bad omen.
The city of Lafayette has launched its eat local campaign. EatLafayette is in its ninth year of promoting the mom-and-pop restaurants that have put Lafayette on the map as a foodie town. Ben Berthelot, executive director of the Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission, has found that over the years more and more local restaurants have pulled together for this campaign.
“We went from 19 restaurants in a two-week campaign nine years ago, to this year we have basically a three-month campaign and 73 restaurants participating," Berthelot said.
Laine Kaplan-Levenson spits the 60 second weekend.
It’s the last weekend in April, which for many means one thing (especially to Fred Kasten), and while we’re counting down for the gates of the Fair Grounds to open wide, let us not forget all that continues to live and breathe outside the racetrack gates. Here are some great things to do before, after, or (gasp) during this weekend’s main attraction:
Lafayette Parish District Attorney Mike Harson says he does not believe anyone else in his office was knowingly involved in the bribery scheme that his former secretary and office administrator admitted to earlier this week.
Barna D. Haynes pleaded guilty Monday to one count of conspiracy in an ongoing federal investigation of bribes that were paid for giving criminal defendants a break, mainly in DWI cases.
U.S. Attorney Stephanie Finley has said she anticipates more guilty pleas in the investigation.
Louisiana-Lafayette football coach Mark Hudspeth says he's seeking a replacement for defensive coordinator Greg Stewart.
Hudspeth said Wednesday that Stewart will not return to the Ragin' Cajuns' coaching staff for the 2013 season. He did not indicate what sparked the coaching move but thanked Stewart for his contributions that led to the team's 18 wins, including a pair of New Orleans Bowl titles over the last two years.
State investigators say one client of the Lafayette Association for Retarded Citizens developed a bowel obstruction and another developed an antibiotic-resistant staph infection because association employees did not administer medicine properly.
The Advertiser reports that the association had a Feb. 19 deadline for correcting problems found in December by the health standards section of the Department of Health and Hospitals.
It says neither DHH nor association Director Glenn Weber would comment on whether LARC met that deadline.
Lafayette City-Parish President Joey Durel has signed an emergency declaration for Lafayette Parish, and non-essential government workers have civil leave Wednesday.
The parish is under a hurricane watch and tropical storm warning as Hurricane Isaac approaches the northern Gulf Coast. In Lafayette Parish, winds were expected to gust up to 30 or 40 miles an hour starting late Tuesday afternoon, with gusts of 50 to 60 mph expected for most of Wednesday.
Officials say Lafayette residents should drive only when necessary after 6 p.m. Tuesday.