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Louisiana criminal defense: Criminal justice reform coming

As it currently stands, Louisiana has the highest prison population in the country. This is something that the state is trying to remedy, however. Several bills are currently being reviewed that would change several things about the criminal justice system and even save the state millions of dollars over the next decade. While, if passed, it is meant to help those accused of crimes going forward, those currently serving prison sentences may be able to seek early release with the assistance of a criminal defense attorney.

Nine bills in total were submitted for consideration, three of which were passed by the Senate. Unfortunately, there are several aspects on which all parties could not come to agreement. As such, a compromise to get things rolling was recently announced between the governor's and district attorney's offices. The other issues will be addressed at a later date.

For now, the state is planning on reducing the prison population by 10 percent by putting more money into pretrial diversion programs for qualified nonviolent offenders. These include rehabilitation services, job training programs and drug counseling. Those who complete these programs successfully would be able to avoid incarceration completely and get the help they need to live more productive lives.

While the Edwards' package, as this compromise is known, is not perfect, it is a step in the right direction for Louisiana. It could help a lot of people avoid overly harsh punishment if convicted on nonviolent offenses. Of course, a criminal defense attorney will play a big role in assisting those accused or convicted in fighting for case dismissals, seeking alternative sentencing options or seeking release.

Source: nola.com, "Louisiana may be poised to pass 'historic' criminal justice reform, reduce prison population", Julia O'Donoghue, May 16, 2017

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