Acadia Parish sheriff speaks out against criminal justice reform - KATC.com | Continuous News Coverage | Acadiana-Lafayette

Acadia Parish sheriff speaks out against criminal justice reform plan

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Gov. John Bel Edwards signed a package of 10 criminal justice reform and reinvestment bills earlier this year that will reduce Louisiana's prison population by 10 percent and scale down the parole/probation population by 12 percent over the next decade. As part of a Louisiana Justice Reinvestment program, approximately 1,400 people serving time for non-violent, non-sex offenses will be released early from prison on Nov. 1.

As the most imprisoned state in the country, Louisiana lawmakers are working to drop the prison population.

These individuals have been prepared by Department of Corrections' staff to return to their families and communities. Their release signals progress for a state that has become infamous as the world's leader in incarceration, despite having a crime rate similar to its neighboring states.

By reducing the number of people in prison and the length of their sentences, the state is expected to save $262 million, 70 percent of which will be reinvested into programs that will improve public safety by preventing crime and reducing recidivism.

However, the Acadia Parish Sheriff, KP Gibson, said he is skeptical about the new plan, saying it focuses more on cutting costs than on the community.

"My concern is for our public safety. We just got through a rash of 30-40 car burglaries in the northeast part of our parish. We don't want to see a repeat of that continue and I'm not saying it's going to. but we need to be aware and alert on what's going on and who's getting out," said Sheriff Gibson.

Of the nearly 1400 inmates being released early statewide, 29 are from the Acadia Parish area.

Gibson says though he knows Louisiana needs to revamp their justice system, he does not agree with this reform plan.

"When you start seeing a lot of burglaries a lot of narcotics,  thefts, things of that nature, it's puzzling. Yeah, they may not be violent to the point where they're going to do injury, but I still think over time we'll see crime continue to go up and see a majority of these people back in the system," he said.

One thing that has him hesitant is the fact that those 29 people have been arrested 289 times on a total of 552 charges.

"At some point in time, if you've had that many arrests and you're being put back into society, there's a problem. They haven't gotten straightened after arrest number one or number ten, and they're coming back into our communities; that's what puzzles and concerns me."

To see the full list of changes for the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment, click here.

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