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Louisiana Passes Legislation Addressing Growing Number of Elderly in Prison

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June 20, 2011

The Louisiana Senate has just passed H.B. 138, which will enable some prisoners to go before a parole board upon turning 60. The board can then decide to grant parole to those individuals it determines would pose no danger to the community upon release. Louisiana’s House of Representatives passed the bill two weeks ago. It now heads to the desk of Gov. Bobby Jindal, and we hope that he will go along with the will of the legislature.

H.B. 138 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.

Even Burl Cain, the warden at Louisiana’s Angola Prison, believes giving elderly prisoners the opportunity for parole is a good idea:

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As we’ve said before, allowing the elderly a chance to go before a parole board and prove that they no longer pose a threat to the community is a matter of both compassion and common sense, especially at a time when state prisons are packed way beyond capacity and state budgets are stretched beyond the breaking point.

We applaud the Louisiana legislature for this important step toward reducing the state’s unnecessarily high prison population.

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