March 16, 2024

Updates from Louisiana's Special Legislative Session on Crime

Updates from Louisiana's Special Legislative Session on Crime

Things are bleak in Louisiana. Our newly elected Governor, Jeff Landry, is working overtime to pass “tough on crime” bills undoing major progress in the criminal justice sphere which historically gave folks a second chance. As a reentry organization, The First 72+’s work will be severely impacted. Read to see what we’re up against, how we’re fighting back, and what you can do to join us.

Reentry is about to look drastically different in our state.

All 22 tough-on-crime bills breezed through to Landry's desk in only nine days, fueled by the supermajority Republican control of the Legislature. 

Consequential bills limit release, such as:

  • HB9: Abolishes parole almost entirely
  • HB10: Greatly reduces good time credits for incarcerated people
  • HB11: Extends probation length and furthers consequences for those who violate parole
  • SB5: Requires a unanimous parole board vote
  • SB3: Lowers the age at which someone can be tried as an adult to 17-years-old​​​​​​ -- This is both gravely unsafe for juveniles forced into adult facilities and will cost millions

While these bills technically don’t go into effect until August 1st, 2024, we have heard from those inside that restrictions on parole board eligibility are already being implemented in facilities. With these bills in place the hope of being released for “good time” or making parole and reuniting with family is completely eliminated.

Landry’s victories are a major loss for criminal justice reform advocates, as they work to severely roll back the Justice Reinvestment package (JRI), a series of bills passed in 2017 under previous governor John Bel Edwards that helped us welcome many of our loved ones home. The bills do nothing to deter crime nor support our communities. Rather, they only deter hope and prevent rehabilitation, furthering the cycle of incarceration in Louisiana.  

For more on the special session’s impact, check out this article with a statement from our Executive Director, Troy Glover.

Upcoming Legislation

As the regular session gets started, we brace ourselves for more than one thousand bills that are currently filed. The regular session, which began on March 11th, includes harmful bills such as SB134, which would eliminate voting rights for everyone currently on probation or parole, undoing Act 636. Other bills threaten SNAP and Medicaid access and continue the trend of taking away public benefits rather than investing in life-saving resources. 

The session will conclude by June 3rd at the latest. In other words, there’s still time to act.

We need your help to oppose incoming legislation and mitigate the effects of these bills.

Here are some ways you can act to oppose incoming legislation:

For those in Louisiana: Call your state legislators and VOTE in the upcoming election on March 23rd. For voting FAQs, check out VOTE’s website on eligibility requirements. This may be the last time many formerly incarcerated people are able to use their right to vote, as one piece of legislation aims to repeal the right to vote for those on parole and probation. 

For those outside of Louisiana: Bring attention to this issue on a national level. Follow and reshare posts from us and other local organizations in this fight.

Consider donating emergency aid to organizations opposing this legislation. Your donation is a powerful way to fuel our work on the ground, assisting us to build a stronger movement and provide emergency services to those most impacted.

Thank You

We want to send a sincere thank you to our partners and supporters in this fight. Local organizations have sprung into action, including Voice of the Experienced (VOTE), Promise of Justice Initiative, Innocence Project New Orleans, and Operation Restoration. These groups have mobilized to send hundreds of citizens to testify at the capitol and have spearheaded political education, helping us explain the impact of this new legislation for people across Louisiana and beyond.

We know that the fight does not end here – we have an uphill battle these next few years and are attempting to do as much proactive work as possible. We’re no strangers to the challenges we are facing. This year marks our 10 year anniversary of fighting for a state where prior incarceration is not a barrier to secure housing, employment, safe space and community acceptance. Our organization was founded with that goal, and we won’t stop until we achieve it.