Criminal justice overhaul advances, violent crime a hurdle

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Gov. John Bel Edwards has reached some common ground with Louisiana’s sheriffs and district attorneys in his push to decrease Louisiana’s highest-in-the-nation incarceration rate.

A package of bills aimed at helping save Louisiana millions by bringing down the prison population received backing Tuesday from a Senate judiciary committee.

But before they passed unopposed to the Senate floor, the proposals were heavily amended to reduce opposition from sheriffs and district attorneys, who refuse to cede much ground on lessening the punishments for violent crimes.

The measures expand opportunities for probation and parole and shrink sentences for some offenders, mainly those jailed for non-violent crimes.

Facing opposition from district attorneys, Edwards scrapped an effort to create a felony class system. The bill now calls on a task force to study the issue.

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