A criminal justice group known as Smart on Crime Louisiana is urging Gov. John Bel Edwards to provide financial transparency for millions in taxpayer savings that resulted from justice reform efforts in recent years.

The group wrote in an open letter to Edwards that 70 percent of savings from prison population declines are supposed to compensate crime victims and reduce inmate recidivism, or returning to jail or prison for crimes committed after being released.

“However, it’s unclear how this money is being spent,” several Smart on Crime steering committee members wrote.

“Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic has been truly disruptive; even so, the ongoing public health crisis is no longer a sufficient reason to delay critical reporting,” they wrote.

A request for comment from the governor’s office was not returned.

Smart on Crime Louisiana is a coalition of state business leaders and conservative organizations that advocates for justice system changes, such as increasing job training for low-level offenders and reducing barriers to reenter the workforce.

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