A Marshall Project report shows Louisiana saw its largest drop in prison population in a decade between 2016 and 2017. The 1,943 person decrease is a 5.4 drop in the total population, one of the biggest drops in the nation.

State Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc says it’s a testament to recent criminal justice reforms.

  “Over time it works, you know that we see it working and we saw it stabilizing. And that’s when Governor Edwards picked up the baton and ran with it”.

In 2012 Louisiana was named the world’s “Prison Capital” after a report noted that the state has a higher percentage of incarcerated people than any other state, or country, including Iran, China, and Russia.

LeBlanc says the good news is, a declining incarceration rate has not led to an increased crime rate in Louisiana.

 “Crime is down, I know that’s hard to believe sometimes with your social media and the press and all. But the overall crime rate in Louisiana is down, even with the prison reduction and I think that’s important”.

While the crime rate has gone down at the same time the state has released more prisoners, the percentage of people who make return trips to prison, or the recidivism rate, has not changed. LeBlanc says the next phase of criminal justice reform includes a set of programs that aims to fix that.

 “When I talk about reinvestment, we’re going to establish those programs dealing with five parishes where 48% of our prisoners come from and go back to. Which is Orleans, Jefferson, East Jefferson, Caddo, and St. Tammany”.

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