Large prisoner release begins All Saints Day

Updated: Oct. 31, 2017 at 4:44 PM CDT
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(WVUE) - At midnight on Halloween, 1,600 inmates around the state will begin being released under new laws designed to reduce the state's high jail population. Among those are inmates convicted of crimes ranging from battery on a corrections officer to second offense marijuana possession.

"Projections are we will save $240 million over 10 years, reinvesting $180 million into community-based alternatives," said reform bill sponsor state Rep. Walter Leger, (D-New Orleans).

Some law enforcement officials are concerned.

"There may be people going right back to the same lifestyle, and that's a problem for public safety," said Police Association of New Orleans President Michael Glasser.

Of the 140 inmates being released in Orleans, we spot-checked of a couple of inmates to see what charges sent them to jail.

Joshua Sorino was convicted of marijuana and cocaine distribution, resisting an officer and illegal carrying of a weapon. Gerald Franklin was serving time for illegal carrying of a firearm and resisting an officer.

One crime watchdog says the timing is all wrong.

"For the 28th straight year in a row, Louisiana was rated as the most violent state per capita," said Irv Magri, former head of the State Prison Board.

Meantime, in a check of the nearly 140 Jefferson Parish prisoners being released,  we found Ricardo Gongora, who was arrested seven times for charges including second-offense possession of marijuana, sexual battery and possession with intent to distribute cocaine to persons under 18.

John Gustave was arrested 12 times for charges that include possession of marijuana, hit and run driving, being a convicted felon with a weapon,         
robbery, simple theft and home burglary.

The new laws, spearheaded by the governor, require money from reduced jail costs to be plowed into prisoner rehab and training.

"I have never believed that people in Louisiana are innately more sinister or more criminal than people elsewhere," said Gov. John Bel Edwards.

State parole offices will staff up early to process state prisoners for release coming from jails all over the state.

Of the 1,400 prisoners being released early, 78 are from St. Tammany, 23 were convicted in St. Bernard and 10 come from  St. John the Baptist Parish.

The city says it's formed a re-entry team to deal with the influx.

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