Sentences may ease as Louisiana looks to lower incarceration rate

It is claimed that Louisiana has the highest incarceration rates in the world. Residents of our state who are charged with a crime can often expect stiff penalties if convicted. This can be of great concern to a person charged with a crime.

However, under the direction of Governor Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana Sentencing Commission has been asked to investigate methods to reduce our prison population and high rate of incarceration. Many proposals are being discussed, and any changes enacted could be a great benefit to those who have been charged with a crime.

At the last meeting of the commission, reports state, several proposals were advanced for consideration by lawmakers. They include allowing judges the discretion to depart from the mandatory minimum sentencing standard in certain cases. Accordingly, those charged with a crime that has extenuating circumstances can now hope that a judge will consider a lesser sentence if a they are convicted.

All people charged with a crime are entitled to a full and complete defense. Criminal accusations against an individual do not mean that the person is guilty. Prior to any conviction, evidence must be presented that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to the satisfaction of the court. And that is no small burden of proof.

Those charged with a crime would do well to focus their attention on each and every element of the allegations that form the basis for the proceedings. In doing so, important legal rights must be preserved and any claimed violations brought to the attention of the court. Every individual in our state deserves a full and fair hearing before an impartial court as they fight allegations made against them and seek a successful conclusion to all pending charges. A review of incarceration practices may make sentencing increasingly fair. It will be interesting to see what the commission comes up with and if lawmakers agree.

Source: NOLA.com, "Louisiana Sentencing Commission meets today," Cindy Chang, March 15, 2012

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