Less jail time for first offenders worries local residents about future
POSTED: Tuesday, August 13, 2013 - 5:00pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 9:24am
BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC33) — The conversation on reducing charges for first-time offenders and those arrested on lesser drug charges is growing. It all stems from a proposal by Attorney General Eric Holder aimed at thinning out the country's prison population and saving taxpayer dollars.
“There are consequences to every decision that you make, whether it’s good or bad," said Baton Rouge resident, Chuck Chenevert.
Attorney General Eric Holder says with those first-time offenders, some things need to change.
"Too many Americans go to too many prisons for far too long, and for no truly good law enforcement reason," said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The U.S. Attorney General wants to keep first-time offenders and people accused of drug crime out of jail to avoid overcrowding, and keep long sentences for people who could be rehabilitated.
But Chenevert says that's not right. He thinks there are other solutions to this problem.
"There is a different way to minimize the crowding in the jails other than putting them back on the street," noted Chenevert.
Here in Louisiana, District Attorney Hillar Moore says our jails are not full of first-time offenders but the changes could still affect us in the long run.
“I do see some effect on the state level but we're proactive and we will continue to be proactive,” noted Moore. “We don’t like locking people up unless we just have to."
With new legislation recently passed that addresses these first-timers our state is working to get them help before they even enter the system.
“We did support it but the problem is the money," said Moore.
Chenevert still says, if you commit the crime you do the time.
“If you don't pay consequences or suffer the consequences you're not going to learn from the decision you make, either being bad or good,” said Chenevert.
Here in Louisiana, 90 percent of the drug-related crimes are handled at a state level and the rest are at a federal level. Hillar Moore says first off, we need to continue to work on the problem here at home.
"We have to nip that problem in the bud earlier to childhood to identify those people,” noted Moore. “That’s really where we need to start."
Holder is also asking all federal prosecutors to handle the serious offenders and have those less serious crimes dealt with at either a state level or a local level.