D.A.s Oppose Some Proposed Reforms

Mar 3, 2017

“Crime and incarceration is only a manifestation of the failed policies and the neglect of our government to address the needs of the people of the state of Louisiana,” an irate Bridget Dinvaut, St. John Parish D.A, told the Justice Reinvestment Task Force Thursday.

Hers was one of several tempers that flared at the next-to-last meeting of the task force, as district attorneys objected to some of the panel’s findings and proposed recommendations.

“We’re going to have to oppose the proposed release and parole eligibility for violent criminals,”

Louisiana DA’s Association director Pete Adams began.

He was referring to proposals to lower the age and time served to be eligible for “geriatric” parole, as well as a recommendation to prohibit life-without-parole sentences for juvenile offenders.

The task force has been working with PEW Research to gather data to guide their recommendations. Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes D.A. Ricky Babin took issue with one of PEW’s conclusions – that 86% of those that enter the prison system are unnecessarily incarcerated for non-violent offenses.

“What about somebody who’s committed 27 or 28 burglaries? Do we put those in prison? That’s ‘non-violent’!” Babin asked. “But when’s enough enough? At some point in time, there’s nothing else you can do. It’s about protecting the rights of the people who are playing by the rules.”

Then Babi naked, “Who do you trust when it comes to determining who’s dangerous in your community – your sheriff and his deputies, and your district attorney and his assistants? Or do you trust PEW or any other statistical monitor that you’re providing?”

The task force meets again March 16th, to finalize their recommendations to overhaul the state criminal justice system during this spring’s legislative session.