This report describes the features and effects of Louisiana’s legislation stemming from the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), which transformed the state’s criminal justice system and is saving the state millions of dollars.
In 2008, as part of a broader government efficiency initiative, Louisiana’s Department of Public Safety and Corrections (DPS&C) invested funds into partnerships with several larger jails to create regional reentry centers that provide pre-release programming to state inmates housed in parish jails. This effort and the slow stabilization of Louisiana’s prison population in 2012 were precursors to the bipartisan effort to commit to statewide reforms and reinvestment through JRI under the governor’s leadership. In 2015, the state legislature created the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Task Force, which committed the state to a data-driven process that would reduce corrections spending, expand evidence-based practices, and reinvest savings into strategies for reducing recidivism. The Task Force presented a report of its findings and recommendations in 2017. The recommendations were implemented in 10 bills designed to promote public safety and improve the cost-effectiveness of corrections. Once these new policies went into effect, Louisiana experienced significant declines in corrections costs while public safety measures remained steady. The policy package required that 70 percent of any savings that resulted from the Implementation of JRI policies be reinvested in support for crime victims, grants to community-based programs, internal investments in DPS&C, and investments in the state’s Office of Juvenile Justice. This report presents the breakdown of the amounts for each reinvestment area in the first year.