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"Despite the not-so-good news about Louisiana's crime situation, the state is making progress. The state's violent crime rate has decreased more than 19% in the five years from 1997 to 2001, better than the national decline of 17.4%." Scott Morgan, President of Morgan Quinto Press.
It can fairly be said that Louisiana has earned the label of “the nation’s most dangerous state.” Louisiana is plagued with violence. Despite ranking 24th among all states in population size, it ranks nineth in property crime, sixth in aggravated assault rates, and eighth in burglary (2003). It also has the highest murder rate in the country – 13.0 murders per 100,000 people – well above the national average of 5.7 murders.
The enormous toll that this violence exacts may be impossible to calculate. It is reflected in part in Louisiana’s high incarceration rate – the highest in the nation in 2002. As a result, in FY-04/05 the state spent nearly $500 million in State General Funds alone on keeping people in jail. These numbers, though, do not incorporate the cost of lost lives or lost earnings, of the physical and emotional suffering of victims, or of the strain of living and raising children in fear.
Unfortunately, public safety in Louisiana is more than an “adult” issue. According to the latest national data, Louisiana has the second-highest juvenile incarceration rate in the country. Part of this is a function of our juvenile crime rate, part relates to Louisiana’s approach to dealing with it. Other states rely less on juvenile prisons for non-violent offenders, focusing their efforts on rehabilitation programs that keep these youth closer to their families and schools. There is growing testimony that suggests we don’t really have a juvenile justice “system,” and what we do have doesn’t work. Efforts are underway now to reform the way we administer juvenile justice in Louisiana, and this will be an issue that confronts the governor and legislature.
However, neither adult nor juvenile crime will be adequately dealt with in Louisiana until our leaders address poverty and poor education. There is no debating the correlation among these issues.
Things to Consider:
Question to Ask:
- Louisiana’s adult prison population in early 2005 was 36,896. Nearly 41% of which have sentences of over 10 years and 11.8% are serving life sentences.
- Just over 39% of adult prisoners are incarcerated for violent crimes and 30.7% are incarcerated for drug crimes.
- There are 62,606 individuals on probation or parole in Louisiana (2005).
- The three-year recidivism rate among the adult state prison population was 40.2% in 2005.
- Louisiana spends $35.40 per day for a total of $12,921 per year for each prisoner in a state institution.
- Louisiana has eleven adult state facilities.
- Currently, there are 5,619 juvenile offenders in Louisiana. Of this population, 563 are in secure custody, 697 are in non-secure custody, and 4,359 are under supervision.
- Among the juvenile offenders in secure care, 40.6% had committed violent crimes, while 59.4% were there for other types of offenses.
- The three-year recidivisim rate for the entire juvenile population was 39.3% in 2004.
- Louisiana has three juvenile state facilities.
- For each youthful offender in a state juvenile institution, the state of Louisiana will spend $230.12 per day for a total of $83,993.80 per year. When including costs for medical/mental health, the state spends $304.34 per day on juvenile offenders for total of $111,084.10 per year.
- A bill passed in the 2003 Regular Session of the Louisiana Legislature created the framework for shifting many of the juveniles incarcerated for nonviolent offenses from juvenile prisons to community-base programs more focused on rehabilitation.
- This bill is inline with public sentiment expressed in a CABL poll in the spring of 2003. The poll reveals that while citizens support tough policies for dealing with youthful offenders, 80% believe the juvenile justice system should focus on rehabilitation, but not necessarily within a prison setting.
- Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate and murder rate in the country. Voters continue to express serious concern about crime and their own personal safety. Corrections has been one of the parts of the budget that has continued to grow in recent years. What would you do as governor to help increase public safety and reduce the high level of crime that continues to plague our state?
Read what the Governor had to say about this and other quality of life issues in CABL's 2003 Election Candidate Survey. Click Here.
View Related Data from the Louisiana Fact Book
Click Here (PDF)
LA Department of Public Safety Corrections – www.corrections.state.la.us
Federal Bureau of Investigation – www.fbi.gov
U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Stats – www.ojp.usdoj.gov/bjs
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention – www.ojjdp.ncjrs.org
YouWho – www.youwho.org
Juvenile Justice Commission – www.jjc.state.la.us
Ann E. Casey Foundation - www.aecf.org