U.S. Sen. John Kennedy is raising concerns today about the Louisiana Department of Corrections’ ability to protect the public. This comes after the state’s district attorneys indicated that nearly a quarter of inmates released early through Gov. Edwards’ Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Act have been arrested again. According to officials, at least two of the rearrested inmates are behind bars on murder charges.
Inmates were released without the probation and parole boards evaluating the risk to public safety. In Ascension, Assumption and St. James parishes, one in three inmates who were released early has already reoffended according to officials.
The Justice Reinvestment Act has saved the state money, but few of the savings appear to be funding recidivism reduction efforts. News reports indicate that pilot programs aimed at working with high risk offenders fizzled.
“It’s clear to me that DOC doesn’t know what it’s doing, and people are getting killed as a result. You can’t let criminals out of jail and just expect them to behave. That’s like starving a fox and then asking him to guard the henhouse,” said Sen. Kennedy. “No one reviewed DOC’s early release decisions, and now the public is suffering the consequences. The state might be saving money by emptying the prisons, but law enforcement and district attorneys are stuck with the tab for arresting and prosecuting these criminals over and over again. Even worse, the public’s been placed in danger because of DOC’s incompetence.”
According to Senator Kennedy, here are a few of those rearrested:
- Despite more than 60 arrests on his rap sheet, Tyrone “Smokey” White walked out of prison early because of Louisiana’s Justice Reinvestment Act. White promptly robbed two roofers at gunpoint.
- Ricko Canaz Ball – also known as Oil Slickster for his habit of breaking into automobile-related stores – was released in November despite a string of theft convictions. He was arrested again in January in half a dozen burglaries.
- Habitual offender Alton Brooks Jr. racked up four arrests within two months of his early release. The new charges include battery of a police officer. Brooks has a criminal history that consumes 51 pages.
- Richard McLendon got out of prison a year early because of Gov. Edwards’ criminal reform package. He was arrested in June for gunning down a 61-year-old man in Haughton.
- Paul Jackson got out of prison five months early. He’s now back in jail on a murder charge.