After watching the video, click here
Monday, 11 April 2016 13:01
Political will needed to combat John Bel Edwards' prison scare tactics
Written by 
Rate this item
(0 votes)

Louisiana’s Department of Corrections might want to rethink its budgetary poormouthing strategy, especially when there exist realistic solutions to cuts costs that take only the political will to implement.

Last week, Secretary of Corrections Jimmy LeBlanc – the only holdover selected by Gov. John Bel Edwards to continue in the same cabinet job from former Gov. Bobby Jindal – testified to a House of Representatives panel that a projected cut of 10 percent in his department’s budget would lead to any or all of closing prisons, releasing prisoners early, or cutting across the board. He described the aftermath of this as potentially deleterious to both public safety and prisoners, calling it “dangerous.”

While policy-makers always should go alert in judging validity of information when hearing such drastic claims – LeBlanc threw out numbers such as releasing over 5,000 of the state’s over 37,000 incarcerated about equally distributed between state and local facilities and closing five of the state’s nine prisons to make up the roughly $65 million – even milder protestations would draw some deserved skepticism given the recent controversy over some suspicious personnel practices in DOC. Former Louisiana State Penitentiary head Burl Cain, a former business partner of LeBlanc’s, and one of his relatives engaged in wasteful, if not fraudulent, practices apparently legal only because of the exceptional laxness of internal DOC policies. Additionally, Cain will receive extensive retirement benefits that in a minor way would have alleviated the contemplated budget cut.


Reviewing the data also brings up questions about the options available and whether the draconian choices presented represent the genuine universe of policy prescriptions. From the beginning of Jindal’s terms through their end, the state’s prison population hardly changed, and during his second term fell about 10 percent which he anticipated by closing and consolidating prisons. Given the trend, perhaps closing another would not cause the dire consequences LeBlanc explicated.

(Interestingly, right at the beginning of the year as Edwards took office, DOC recorded the second-largest spike in incarcerations in its history, trailing only the Hurricane Katrina-induced influx from local jails in Aug., 2005. Whether this has any relation to Edwards’ campaign pledge during his term to reduce the jailed population by 10 percent and/or positioning the budget debate to dramatize cuts to DOC is not public knowledge.)

Yet another avenue of immediate cost savings not mentioned by LeBlanc presents itself – privatizing more Louisiana prisons. The average per prisoner daily cost at the five prisons with similar populations to the two facilities owned by the state but operated privately is about $57, but at the private prisons is just around $31.50. By privatizing these five, the state could save $76 million annually right there. (Alternatively, the state could house more prisoners in local jails at a cost of $24.39 daily for each, but capacity varies, transportation costs add more, and local jails do not have to offer the range of services that could promote reduced recidivism.)

Other policy alterations made by the Legislature also could cut costs. Laws could change to put more (non-violent, non-sex offense) offenders on probation and award parole earlier; supervision of these individuals costs barely over $2.50 a day. Certain (again, non-violent, non-sex offense) crimes also could have their terms of imprisonment reduced. These avenues might end up more tractable for enacting, given that legislators often look at prison privatizations as interfering with their abilities to promote themselves as patronage and jobs deliverers and the law would have to change to allow for more privatization.

Yet the larger point is several options exist well beyond the apocalyptic scenarios, likely inspired by Edwards’ strategy of cordoning off spending cuts to enable tax increases that permanently grow government, asserted by LeBlanc. It takes but the legislative will, putting the needs of the state and its taxpayers ahead of special interests and political ambition, to implement these rather than to fall for scare tactics.
 

Jeffrey Sadow

Jeffrey Sadow is an associate professor of political science at Louisiana State University in Shreveport.   He writes a daily conservative blog called Between The Lines

Website: jeffsadow.blogspot.com/
Login to post comments
Powered By JFBConnect
  • Deja vu for Louisiana high-speed a Internet Broadband project, once again
  • Republicans Gatti, Crews vie for Louisiana House to replace now-Congressman Mike Johnson
  • Retiring Louisiana State Police Chief Edmonson retirement $ back in news
  • Trump, Ryan going to BAT for tax reform, economic growth

jindal broadbandIt’s déjà vu all over again for a broadband access project in Louisiana that saw the same mistakes repeated, leading to its demise both times.

Read More

lou gehrig burnettby Lou Gehrig Burnett, Publisher of Fax-Net

   Raymond Crews and Robbie Gatti are headed to a runoff in state House District 8 on April 29 to fill  the seat left vacant when Mike Johnson was elected  to Congress.  Both are Republicans.
    Crews came in first with 41% of the vote, followed by Gatti with 37%..  Two other candidates in the race were Duke Lowrie, who finished with 16%, and Patrick Harrington, who had 6%.

Read More

edmonson2by Tom Aswell, Publisher of Louisiana Voice

It must be nice when you can get the rules written just for you.

There must come a time when even the most disinterested, blasé, apolitical person living has to look up from whatever else occupies his interest and say, “Wait a damned minute. This just ain’t right and we’re not gonna do it.”

Read More

trump greatIt has been over three decades since our country’s last major tax reform was passed during the Reagan administration. Since that time, America has increased tax rates on businesses and individuals and become less competitive. 

Read More

BB Menu

latter-blum2

TRUMP TALK

Trump Talk: Ryancare, Russia, Investigations, Travel ban--with Jeff Crouere

Dead Pelican

Optimized-DeadPelican2 1 1