BATON ROUGE — The state Senate approved several bills to improve Louisiana’s criminal justice system earlier this week, including a bill by a Monroe legislator to make probation less costly for both the state and offenders.
Other bills would adjust the juvenile probation procedure and provide released prisoners letters verifying where they had served their time.
The bills had already been approved by the House and now go to the governor for his approval.
House Bill 643 allows the parole board to reduce the level of supervision at which a parolee is monitored, potentially reducing the cost of probation for the state and reducing the number of fees that have to be paid by the parolee.
Sen. Katrina Jackson, D-Monroe, spoke in support of the bill, which does not decrease anyone’s parole time.
The bill, written by Rep. Frederick Jones, D-Monroe, helps “lighten the level of supervision after so much time and also lighten the cost of supervision after so much time, which helps both the state and the offenders with the cost,” Jackson said.
Under HB643, the parole board can reconsider a nonviolent offender’s terms of probation after three years of parole.
For violent offenders, the time frame is seven years. After the offender has completed the required time, the board can reduce the number of meetings that the offender is required to have with his or her probation officer per month.
Jackson said that district attorneys have voiced support for the bill.
It passed with 35 yeas and 2 nays.
The Senate also swiftly voted 33-0 in favor of HB453, which ensures a minimum of three days’ notice before a court can make a change to a juvenile’s probation.
Sen. Rick Ward, R-Port Allen, said the bill gives prosecutors time to look over any changes.
The Senate also passed, in a 37-0 vote, HB529 by Rep. Royce Duplessis, D-New Orleans, which ensures that formerly incarcerated individuals can obtain letters of incarceration from the facility that held them.
Sen. Gary Smith, D-Norco, said the letters verify that an individual has served his time and where he served it.
“This allows an individual who was incarcerated to ask the facility that was holding him to give him an official letter once he’s out saying where he was held and how long he was held for, basically certifying that he did his time so that he can use it once he’s out to get a driver’s license and things like that,” Smith said.