Legislators slowly react to Louisiana’s collapsing penal system
Yesterday, a 13-12 vote by the 25 members of the House Appropriations Committee defeated House Bill 545 (by Representative Henry Burns), the prison sale and privatization bill. Experts believe it is “unlikely that the Senate will put it back in.”
Representatives who voted against the sale and privatization of prisons in Louisiana were:
James Armes III, D-Leesville;
Brett Geymann, R-Lake Charles;
Mickey Guillory, D-Eunice;
Rickey Hardy, D-Lafayette;
Chris Hazel, R-Ball;
Eddie Lambert, R-Prairieville;
Bernard LeBas, D-Ville Platte;
Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans;
Tom McVea, R-St. Francisville;
Gary Smith, D-New Orleans;
Patricia Smith, D-Baton Rouge;
Charmaine Marchand-Stiaes, D-New Orleans
and Patrick Williams, D-Shreveport.
Representatives who voted in favor of the sale and privatization were:
James Fannin, D-Jonesboro;
Simone Champagne, R-Jeanerette;
Charles “Bubba” Chaney, R-Dry Prong;
Patrick Connick, R-Harvey;
Paige Cortez, R-Lafayette;
Noble Ellington, R-Winnsboro;
Joe Harrison Jr., R-Napoleonville;
Tony Ligi, R-Metairie;
James Morris, R-Oil City;
Scott Simon, R-Abita Springs;
M.J. “Mert” Smiley, R-St. Amant;
and Mack “Bodi” White, R-Central.
There is still a US$27.5 million hole in the budget and Department of Corrections Secretary James M. LeBlanc sent layoff notices to wardens at the Avoyelles Correctional Center (Cottonport), C. Paul Phelps Correctional Center (DeQuincy), J. Levy Dabadie Correctional Center (Pineville), and Forcht Wade Correctional Center (Angie). The layoffs of the 1,144 staff would be effective July 17, 2011.
Several legislators call this threat “a political tactic to scare prison workers into supporting the privatization plan,” reports NOLA.com/ The Times-Picayune.
House Bill 416 by Representative Joe Lopinto, R-Metairie and House Bill 414 by Representative Joe Lopinto and Moreno aim at reducing the world’s highest incarceration rate in the State of Louisiana. NOLA.com/ The Times-Picayune reports that George Steimel (lobbyist for the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers) said, “We’ve failed to take the first step if we don’t adopt these (two bills).”
One reader commented that Louisiana’s tax payers need to get rid of mandatory sentences and three-strike laws for non-violent offenders.
On June 1, 2011, Louisiana State Penitentiary Warden Burl Cain asked the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice to embrace House Bill 138 by Representative Patricia Smith to lower the costs for older inmates with health problems, reported The Advocate.
The legislative session adjourns by 6 p.m. on June 23, 2011.
This might interest you as well:
USA: Almost 50% of all prisoners worldwide are in the “Land of the Free”
How Germany does Prison – Americans on a mind-boggling incarceration road trip. (from June 16th through June 21st 2015)