Louisiana’s Habitual Offender Statute is a major contributor to the state’s notoriously high incarceration rate. Under the Habitual Offender Statute, a person who is convicted of more than one felony crime faces longer and longer sentences for each subsequent conviction. These laws were enacted over the last several decades as part of a “tough on crime” approach to sentencing that focused only on punishment and not on redemption or rehabilitation.
The majority of people serving time in Louisiana prisons under the Habitual Offender Statute are there for nonviolent crimes. Instead of funding measures to address the root causes of repeat offenses, such as mental illness, substance abuse, and poverty, the Habitual Offender Statute punishes the symptoms. Louisiana needs to invest in prevention and rehabilitation and divest from outdated and harmful sentencing practices that don’t improve public safety.
PJI’s late client, Shannon Hurd, is profiled in this Louisianans for Prison Alternatives video highlighting this injustice.
Follow Louisianans for Prison Alternatives for more information on Louisiana criminal justice reform efforts.