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Thousands of prison sentences under review

Just over 45 percent of the prison population of Louisiana could see changes in their sentences and an early release after correction officials get done reviewing their records.

Criminal law changes are slated to take effect on Nov. 1, 2017 -- reforms that many felt are necessary in light of the fact that Louisiana currently holds the record for the highest rate of incarcerations in not just the country but the entire world.

Most of the reforms slated to go into effect this fall are aimed at prisoners convicted of low-level crimes -- with a few of the reforms aiming somewhat higher. Those affected by the changes could be:

  • Prisoners convicted of their first violent crime, excluding child abusers, domestic batterers, murderers, armed robbers and kidnappers
  • Third-time felons who had a third conviction for something other than a violent crime, like shoplifting
  • Parole violators, who often get sent back to prison for even a single positive drug or alcohol test
  • Prisoners convicted of murder in the 1970s, if they have already been imprisoned more than 40 years
  • Prisoners more suited to a nursing home than a prison because of their medical status
  • Prisoners who committed murder prior to age 18 if they've already served 25 years

The laws also allow judges to reduce post-prison parole and probation time when they feel it is warranted.

There's cause for hope for many who have suffered under Louisiana's draconian sentencing laws -- but not too much hope. It's estimated only up to 2,000 prisoners will initially be released, with another possible 4,000 seeing the potential of release before the year ends.

In light of the number of cases that need to be reviewed, it might be wise to contact a criminal defense attorney if you think that you or a loved one may qualify for relief after the changes take place. That could help keep his or her case file from being overlooked through human error. You can learn more about these and other criminal defense issues from an experienced attorney.

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Louisiana to review 16,000 prison sentences as criminal justice reform takes effect," Julia O'Donoghue, Sep. 06, 2017

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