Parole Reform in Louisiana – House Bill 543 is Now Law
On June 4, 2012, House Bill 543 was signed into law by Governor Bobby Jindal. This new law is the first step in alleviating the overcrowding and over-sentencing in Louisiana's prisons.
Louisiana has the highest rate of incarceration in the world. The United States has an average incarceration rate of 730 inmates per 100,000 people. Compare that with 62 in Afghanistan, 122 in China, and 525 in Russia. Louisiana's numbers are more than double the U.S. average with 1619 prisoners per 100,000 residents.
House Bill 543 grants parole eligibility to nonviolent and non-sex offenders who have been sentenced to life without parole. Although parole is not automatic, it does allow the prisoner the chance to go a parole board and prove that they are ready to re-enter society rather than spend the rest of their lives behind bars.
The bill is a two year project worked on by the warden of Angola State Penitentiary and the Louisiana Conference of Catholic Bishops. Both powers, along with the ACLU, understand that prison should be a place for people who pose a risk to society and not for people who have redeemed themselves and can be productive again.
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