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Jan 22, 2014 7:45 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck

Legislation to help inmates transition from jail to the workforce

An Acadiana lawmaker is making his case for a new program that would help inmates transition from jail to society.

House Representative Terry Landry has already filed the legislation, which essentially makes workforce development and educational training part of a person's sentence. It applies only to those who commit non-violent crimes in the 15th Judicial District and are sentenced to less than 10 years in jail.

"Ultimately 95 to 97 percent of all the inmates in jails and prisons are going to be released someday, and we want to set up a system where they re-enter society with as many skill sets as possible," said Rob Reardon, who's Director of Corrections for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office.

Reardon says programs like this can lower the chance of an inmate being sent back to jail. Representative Terry Landry says he wants to take programs like this to the next level through his legislation.

"Now on the front-end, the judge can say here you go to the Department of Corrections, and you get your education a GED or a high school diploma whatever it requires," said (D) Representative Terry Landry, who represents Lafayette, Iberia, and St. Martin Parish.

Landry says a plus to his legislation, and creating a program like this, is that it won't cost taxpayers anything

"There's no fiscal note, no new taxes. This is going to save money in the longrun," said Landry. He says they become productive citizens, they start paying taxes, and it lessens crime.

The program is already in motion in parts of New Orleans. Landry says he would like to see a 60-day series of classes that helps inmates apply for jobs as well as develop anger management and money management skills.



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