Blog of Rights

Louisiana to Vote on Parole for Elderly Prisoners Friday

By Sam Ritchie, ACLU at 5:38pm

On Friday, Louisiana’s H.B. 138, which would give inmates age 60 and older the right to have a hearing before a parole board to determine whether they could be safely released, heads to the Senate floor. This bill addresses an ongoing problem in Louisiana and across the nation: A growing geriatric population in our prisons, most of whom pose little to no risk to public safety, and cost taxpayers three times as much to imprison, on average, as younger inmates. Louisiana’s House of Representatives has already voted 65-25 in favor the bill.

When you consider Department of Justice statistics showing that prisoners 55 or older recidivate at a rate of just 2 percent and additional studies that show there is virtually no recidivism for individuals age 60 or older, Louisiana’s bill is a matter of simple common sense. At a time when state prisons are packed way beyond capacity and state budgets are stretched beyond the breaking point, every state should allow elderly inmates the opportunity to present their case to a parole board and be evaluated for release. If they are no longer threats to public safety, there is no reason for them to be incarcerated.

We recently released this video, featuring footage from Louisiana’s Angola prison and an interview with warden Burl Cain, to highlight just how clogged with elderly inmates the prison system truly is:

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If inmates pose no threat to public safety — with some barely able sit or stand up without assistance — you have to wonder, why are we wasting precious resources to keep them in prison? The bill that the Louisiana House overwhelmingly approved yesterday is right on target and is a common sense solution to this problem, both for Louisiana, and the country as a whole. The bill will be taken up for consideration by a Senate committee Friday. If you live in Louisiana, we urge you to TAKE ACTION by contacting your state Senator and telling them you want them to support HB 138.

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