State funding for programs designed to help former inmates under state supervision stay out of jail has been cut from four Louisiana cities, including Lafayette, that offer the services as part of a larger round of budget cuts within the state Department of Corrections.
Lafayette, Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe received notice in June of the cancellation of state contracts for the programs, effective July 1.
The programs, known as "Day Reporting," serve as an alternative to sending former inmates back to jail if they violate their probation or parole on technical violations, like missing drug tests or appointments with their supervisor.
Offenders involved in the programs remain under strict supervision and undergo behavioral treatment in effort to keep them from committing new crimes.
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Cathy Fontenot, the newly installed warden for the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office, said the agency will continue offering drug-testing services that were available through the day-reporting program.
She said the agency is focusing on its re-entry programs, which the state has funded through the next year, in effort to provide those social services to offenders before they're released from jail, instead of after.
"We are going to provide for the people we know need this treatment," Fontenot said.
State-funded programs in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Covington and Bossier City will stay open.
A total of 759 offenders statewide went under day-reporting supervision during the last fiscal year, more than double the number served in each of the four years prior, according to figures from the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections.
Adult Probation and Parole oversees the programs and is losing about $8.8 million in funding through budget cuts effected when the new fiscal year started July 1.
Cutting funding for the centers will end up costing the state some $300,000 each year, as more state offenders will be sent back to jail if they break probation or parole, said Ken Pastorick, the department's communications director.
Day-reporting programs in Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe were operated by GEO Reentry Services, which also operates programs in Baton Rouge, Covington and Bossier City. All six were opened last fall.
The Lake Charles, Alexandria and Monroe programs were removed from the company's website by Friday afternoon. A spokesperson did not respond in time for this article's publication.
GEO Reentry services is owned by the Florida-based GEO Group. The corrections company operates detention centers around the globe, including four in Louisiana.
Along with canceling half of the state's day-reporting contracts, the state corrections department has also reduced the amount paid per inmate to two state-owned but privately operated prisons.
Per-diem inmate rates for Allen Correctional Center, operated by GEO, and the Winn Correctional Center, operated by LaSalle Southwest Corrections of Ruston, will be reduced from more than $31 down to $24.39.
That's the rate paid to local jails. Pastorick said the reduction in funding will effectively turn them from prison institutions to jails, which are meant to serve inmates serving shorter sentences.
Each will lose more than $4 million in funding.
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