As you saw in our three-part investigation "Worthy of Redemption?," we're taking a look ahead to what legislation could be coming to address the state's habitual offender law.
Several bills have been pre-filed for consideration during the regular legislative session that starts on Monday.
An Acadiana state representative is behind one of those proposals.
State Representative Marcus Bryant says this will help those who have been incarcerated for over a decade be eligible for parole. He says it's a bill his constituents want him to present.
"This is not a bill that is anti-district attorney or a bill that we're fighting on. We're actually trying to get this bill in the posture that it does clear up a lot of inequities in sentencing,” said Bryant.
HB 145 makes adjustments to present law, to increase the possibility of parole for older prisoners who have served a certain number of years or a certain percentage of their sentence, depending on their original conviction. The bill would apply to habitual offenders.
"If you've been in jail over thirty years to be made to found out that you're still not getting out or not being given an opportunity to get looked at by a parole board of educated and competent people who can evaluate people as a group and decide whether that person is fit to go back into society, you're not even eligible to go in front of those people and they tell you you have to go thirty more years. That's absurd,” Bryant explained.
If HB 145 is passed into law, Representative Bryant says it'll bring clarity from previous legislation.
"When you have two different pieces of paper that says two different things, it's very difficult. We want people in jail for the time that they're penalized not beyond that period. That's not fair to anybody who comes forward and accepts the consequences of what they did wrong,” said Bryant.
Bryant says it's unclear what day during the legislative session the bill will be introduced, but says he's hopeful it'll be adopted.
All three parts of "Worthy of Redemption?" can be found below:
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