In March 2024, Louisiana undertook a Special Legislative Session focused on violent crime. The legislation took aim at the Justice Reinvestment Initiative effort and resulted in policies that go far beyond a JRI repeal. The materials below speak to the original 2017 reforms, the range of options available to Louisiana and other states to address crime, and the outcomes of the Special Session.  


JRI Smart on Crime Reforms of 2017. In 2016, Louisiana faced a crisis: the state was the top incarcerator in the country and pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into a corrections system failing to yield positive results. Then-Governor John Bell Edwards and a bipartisan legislature spearheaded a Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) to confront the rising cost and population of the corrections system and divert the money saved into state and local programming focused on rehabilitation and reentry.  

Smart on Crime Explainer: Overview of the 2017 JRI process and legislation.

Impact of 2017 Legislation: Cost savings and prison population reductions.  

  • A 26% decrease in prison population and a 55% decrease in the number of people incarcerated for nonviolent offenses over 5 years.
  • A 95% decrease in technical violations of parole or probation, alongside a 35% decrease in average caseload for supervision officers.
  • A reinvestment of nearly $107 million.
  • $71 million to reentry-related services, staffing, and programming.

Louisiana Facts and Figures. CJI has produced a series of Frequently Ask Question documents based on publicly available data. 

Louisiana Violent Crime FAQ.  

Louisiana Prison Population FAQ.  

Special Session on Crime. At the beginning of 2024, Governor Landry announced a special legislative session to follow through on his campaign promise to undo the bipartisan policy work of 2017. The special session resulted in bills that went far beyond reversal of JRI legislation. 

Special Session Fact Checker.

Truth in Sentencing.

  • HB9: Eliminates the possibility of parole for all individuals who commit offenses on or after August 1, 2024, except for a narrow set of circumstances for juveniles serving life sentences or de facto life sentences.
  • HB10: Significantly reduces the time an individual can earn time off their sentence via good behavior and programming participation (“diminution of sentence” or “good time”) while incarcerated.
  • HB11: Increases the custodial sanction for technical violations of probation to no more than 90 days and makes it possible to fully revoke a technical violator back to prison (regardless of the instance of the violation).
  • HB9 and HB10 impose a sentencing regime far stricter than before 2017 and represent a departure from nearly all other states in mandating that nonviolent offenders serve 85% of their sentences.

Cost of Special Session Legislation. The legislation passed during the Special Session stands to cost Louisiana an additional $600 million annually, much of which will fall onto parishes.* 

Statewide Costs of the Rollback Policies.

Local Costs of the Rollback Policies.

Budget Losses and Expected Costs.

  • HB10 alone could double the size of Louisiana’s prison population.
  • Double the population of nonviolent offenders.
  • Triple the time spent in prison for the same offense after August 1.
  • Cost an estimated $2 billion for new prison to accommodate the population.
  • Special Session Cost Estimate.

Alternative Public Policy Approaches. There are many ways to address the cost of the growing prison population while maintaining public safety. Increasing penalties is often the response to increases in crime, but research has found that many outside factors impact crime rates. 

JRI Outcomes in Southern States.

Criminal Justice Trends & Current Policy Proposals in Louisiana.

Factors Impacting Crime.

  • States that expanded Medicaid saw a 5.3% reduction in reported violent crimes.
  • Higher unemployment rates are linked to increases in property crimes.
  • Most people “age out” of crime and criminal behavior.
  • Increasing high school graduation rates and average years in school can dramatically reduce crime rates.

Background work in Louisiana. CJI has been engaged in reform efforts across the Louisiana justice system for many years. 

*CJI’s numbers illustrate potential costs and may differ from the Fiscal Notes attached to specific bills based on access to different underlying data and analysis approaches.


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