Reforms not answer to prison costs

Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Catherine D. Kimball suggests sentencing reforms as a way to lower the amount spent on our increasing prison population.

There are two types of crimes: (1) malum prohibitum, which are wrongs made so by statute, such as cockfighting; and (2) malum in se, which are things wrong in themselves, such as murder, rape, robbery etc.

I don’t have access to Justice Kimball’s crime database, but I would think it likely that 99.9 percent of the people in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola are there for crimes that fall in the second category and that the vast majority of the money the state spends on incarceration of criminals goes there, to pay for people who must be locked away for a long time, or even for life, for the protection of society.

I suggest there is a more basic root problem that gives rise to this cost. Louisiana has enough criminals committing serious crimes to keep the prison at Angola full, no matter what kind of reforms are attempted.

It’s very likely most of them were given a slap on the wrist for other crimes before doing something really serious and being sent to the prison at Angola.

Let’s face it. We have a lot of bad criminals in Louisiana, as shown by the pages of this paper every day. You can’t get through the paper without reading about several people being arrested for committing really violent crimes.

Those kinds of people have to be sent away. And we have to pay the tab.

William Nonin

lawyer

New Iberia