Calcasieu DA raises concerns about 1,400 offenders to be release - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Calcasieu DA raises concerns about 1,400 offenders to be released

(Source: KPLC) (Source: KPLC)
LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) -

The Louisiana Department of Corrections is planning to free a wave of non-violent offenders on Nov. 1. 

As the date nears, the Calcasieu district attorney warns our area could be even more vulnerable to an influx of criminals.

Felton Thompson is the man accused of murdering 10-year-old Jaylyn Citizen and severely injuring his brother in Lake Charles last month. 

Thompson was convicted of two counts of armed robbery - and while eligible for parole, Calcasieu District Attorney John DeRosier says he never should have been released.

DeRosier says he's the type of person Calcasieu Parish may see more of once the State Department of Corrections releases an estimated 1,400 offenders on Nov. 1.

"A person like this guy, who's got two 99-year sentences, who has always demonstrated a propensity for violent criminal offenses, is not the kind of guy you want to parole back out onto the streets," said DeRosier

The upcoming November release is part of a Louisiana prison reform called the Justice Reinvestment Act. Thompson wasn't released as part of that, but DeRosier uses his release as an example. 

And he warns many of those being set free are not necessarily non-violent offenders.

"Some of the offenders that are being paroled pursuant to the Justice Reinvestment Statute are violent criminals," said DeRosier.

And while only 51 of the offenders to be released are from Calcasieu, DeRosier says the parish is much more vulnerable because economic development is likely to attract others.

"They're going to release 51 people to Calcasieu Parish. They're going to release 200 in Caddo. I don't know how many in East Baton Rouge and how many in Orleans. Where are those people going to migrate toward? They're going to migrate toward where the money and the jobs are," he said.

While DeRosier agrees with the concept of saving money and rehabilitating criminals, he predicts it won't work.

"It's a good idea to save the state money every time we can. You don't do it at the expense of public safety...of serious endangerment of the public safety," he said.

However, justice reform advocates say the November release is progress for a state that has become infamous as the world's leader in incarceration.

A coalition of those working to reduce Louisiana's incarceration rate predicts the state will save $262 million dollars, 70 percent of which will be used for programs to prevent crime and reduce the number of repeat offenders. 

The Southern Poverty Law Center says most of those being released are getting out an average of eight weeks earlier than they would have anyway, and that's for good behavior.

For more on the pros and cons of the Nov. 1 Prison Release, check out the links below:

Louisianians for Prison Reform   

Southern Poverty Law Center

Law creating Justice Reinvestment Task Force

La. Justice Reinvestment Package

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