Louisiana Democrat Gov. John Bel Edwards — running for reelection November 16 — has released more than 1,900 convicted criminals from prison since 2017, and more than 14 percent immediately returned to a life of crime.
In 2017, Edwards signed into a law a series of criminal justice bills to reduce prison population in Louisiana to focus primarily on violent offenders and less on those deemed “non-violent” drug offenders. Often, though, violent criminals plead down to lesser drug charges to avoid large prison sentences.
Since then, the Louisiana Department of Corrections has said that about 1,952 convicts have been released from prisons in the state.
And while Edwards’ criminal justice plan was sold as a way to rehabilitate criminals, state officials have said 14.25 percent of those nearly 2,000 released went on to commit more crime within their first year of release.
State officials do not track the released convicts’ criminal records for more than a year after release, indicating that more may have committed additional crimes this year, but that data is not available.
In one case, 33-year-old King Edward Ellis was convicted in 2017 of drunk driving and killing 18-year-old Jordan Prince. Prince had graduated high school 12 days before the crash that killed him. Ellis was sentenced to 15 years in prison but ended up only serving 18 months for Prince’s death and was released from prison early.
Prince’s father, Gary, wrote in a letter to Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA):
My son was a good kid! He had a bright future! He wanted to follow in my footsteps and become a machinist! I’ve worked hard all my life in the oil business and I pay my taxes! I feel that my family deserves better than this! I want you to know that when I say my prayers at night, I pray for a better Louisiana. A Louisiana that is governed by someone that cares about its’ people and steers it towards a brighter tomorrow and not by someone who opens up terrible wounds and horrible memories like the ones my family has all because of dumb decisions! [Emphasis added]
Another case involves 24-year-old Tyrone White — who has a 40-page criminal record — who was released early from prison and just five days later allegedly held two people at gunpoint and stole their money in an armed robbery. White had previously pleaded guilty to robbery in 2014 and was serving a 12-year prison sentence when he was released early.
In less than a year, Edwards’ criminal justice plan cut the number of criminals imprisoned for “non-violent” crimes by 20 percent and reduced the total of those imprisoned for drug crimes by 42 percent. In mid-2018, Edwards’ plan had kept so many accused criminals out of prison that Louisiana’s prison population had dropped to a 20-year low.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.