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One Louisiana sheriff thinks the state should keep 'good' prisoners in jail for free labor


The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Crime rates in the U.S are comparable to other industrialized nations and yet the country's incarceration rate is five times higher than almost anywhere else in the world.

Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia have incarceration rates higher than Cuba, which has the second highest incarceration rate in the world.

If each U.S state was a country, Louisiana would have the highest incarceration rate in the world.

After years of state legislatures trying to come up with a solution to fix the state's mass incarceration problem, they were finally able to pass a bipartisan package of 10 bills aimed to reduce crime and incarceration rates across the state.

On June 15 2017, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards signed the Justice Reinvestment Act. Instead of sending less serious offenders to prison, the new law will punish non-violent low level offenders less harshly which research shows also reduces recidivism rates.

According to Pew Research, "Louisiana officials project that the reforms will reduce the prison and community supervision populations by 10 and 12 percent and avert $262 million in prison spending over the next 10 years. Seventy percent of the savings—an estimated $184 million—will be reinvested in programs in jails and the community that reduce recidivism and in services for crime victims."

As part of the new bill, more than a thousand nonviolent offenders are set to be released from prison early on November 1st.

While most people have expressed their support for the new bill, at least one state official is not happy about the new reforms. During a press conference last week Sheriff of Caddo Parish, Steve Prato shared his feelings about the upcoming changes.

“Well, they’re going to let them out ― the ones that we use in work release programs," he said. "The ones that can work, the ones that can pick up trash, the work-release programs— Those are the ones that they’re releasing!

Not only was he angry about the idea of "bad" prisoners who might be a danger to the community being released early, he was upset "good" prisoners would be released early too.

"In addition to the bad ones..they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen, to do all that where we save money."

After Shaun King posted the video of his comments to Twitter, people had some thoughts of their own about Sheriff Steve Prato.

You can watch the entire press conference below.

Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator talks about criminal justice reform.

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