Louisiana Tackles Thorny Issue of Parole for Violent Felons

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Support is coalescing around Gov. John Bel Edwards’ push to reduce Louisiana’s prison population, but there is serious disagreement among those advising the governor about how to handle people convicted of violent crimes, reports NOLA.com. The governor’s advisory board on lowering the state’s incarceration rates — made up of judges, legislators, a district attorney, religious leader and the head of the prison system–has reached consensus on most of the reform proposals they intend to recommend to Edwards two weeks from now.

They are expected to push for several changes to nonviolent drug and property offenses, but members disagree about how to handle violent felons. There is disagreement over proposals to allow some inmates serving life sentences to have an opportunity at parole after 30 years or when they have reached the age of 50 years old; to allow inmates serving long sentences — though not life sentences — to be eligible for parole even if they have been charged with a violent or sex crime after 20 years or when they hit 45 years old; to allow some sentenced to life as juveniles to have an opportunity at parole, and to allow early parole eligibility for some violent offenders.

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