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Sentencing in Louisiana lightened for some criminal charges

The state of Louisiana’s incarceration rate is among the highest in the nation. At present, there is debate regarding the degree and manner in which those convicted of certain criminal charges, such as drug offenses, should be sentenced.

The trend these days is to find alternatives to imprisonment, such as work release and drug treatment programs. Several factors have brought the situation to its present condition. These factors include the high cost of keeping people locked up and a current sentiment that society is better served limiting the power government has to imprison members of the population.

Those charged with drug offenses may find benefit in the new sentencing policies. In Lafayette for example, the sheriff’s department has been very proactive in embracing treatment programs for those entering the parish jail with substance abuse issues. In addition, the staff at the jail keeps careful observation on inmates so as to spot those who are non-violent and can be granted early release into outside programs appropriate to their situations.

Opposition to this new take on sentencing can be found from some district attorneys. District attorneys can use long-term drug sentences as leverage against accused offenders who want to enter a plea-bargain. This puts the accused at a great disadvantage when looking for the best possible personal outcome.

Incarceration policies in Louisiana are in a period of change. Due to this fact, a defendant’s criminal defense must accurately take into account all current options regarding sentencing for charges.

If you have been charged with a crime, your defense strategy will likely help determine if you will receive the best possible outcome. Given the complex and changing nature of the criminal justice system in Louisiana, you should look for guidance from someone who is familiar with the options available based on the circumstances of your charges.

A criminal attorney licensed in Louisiana may be able to help find the best plan to move forward.

Source: ksmu.org, “States Push For Prison Sentence Overhaul; Prosecutors Push Back,” Martin Kaste, July 9. 2014

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