Sheriff: Don’t release non-violent offenders early — they’re ‘the ones you can work’

The state of Louisiana incarcerates 816 people for every 100,000 residents — an incarceration rate five times higher than most other countries in the world. It costs the state millions of dollars, and sentences for non-violent, first-time offenders do little to curb crime rates. If anything, they do the opposite, destroying families and communities and robbing individuals of their potential for future livelihood over offenses that receive a slap on the wrist in richer, whiter areas.

So Louisiana is implementing new criminal justice reforms that are projected to save the $262 million in prison spending over the next 10 years and reduce prison populations by 10 to 12 percent — reinvesting $184 million into programs that reduce recidivism and provide services for victims of crimes.

One sheriff ain’t too happy about it, though, because with fewer prisoners, who’s going to perform all the slave labor?


That’s Caddo Parish Sheriff Steve Prator speaking at a press conference earlier this week, railing against letting non-violent offenders out early because they’re so good at doing work for free. According to the state’s department of public safety and corrections, normally, 1,500 non-violent offenders a month get released. Under the new program, there would be an additional 1,400-1,500 released.

“The ones you can work, the ones that can pick up trash, the work release programs — but guess what? Those are the ones that they’re releasing!” Prator said. “In addition to the bad ones… they’re releasing some good ones that we use every day to wash cars, to change the oil in our cars, to cook in the kitchen… well, they’re going to let them out!”

Prator said state prisons are a “necessary evil,” but apparently he’s more focused on the “necessary” part than the “evil.” They’re necessary not because they keep the public safe, but because they enable the exploitation of persons who pose zero risk to the community. It’d be interesting to hear what Prator thinks is the “evil” part of the equation. That prisoners as low as four cents an hour for their work? Or that people think Louisiana’s high incarceration rate is a problem to begin with?

“Let’s face it, somebody gotta’ be number one and we got some bad dudes around here,” Prator said. “We got some folks that need to be in jail.”

(So he can work them to death.)

[screenshot via @shaunking]