The House Committee on Criminal Justice unanimously approved a bill today to reduce sentences for possessing marijuana, and give those currently in prison for that offense a chance at possible early release.
New Orleans Rep. Austin Badon says state prisons are over-crowded and straining state finances to house non-violent offenders, and "This bill is projected to save Louisiana more than $7 million dollars annually. This figure doesn't include those who can seek reduction in their current sentence, which would create a greater savings, annually."
Badon's House Bill 103 would also remove simple pot possession from the state's "three strikes, you're out" law; meaning repeat offenders wouldn't run the risk of life in prison for possessing marijuana. He says current statutes harshly punish these non-violent offenders, which he says is hypocritical. "Louisiana is currently sending people to prison for many years, and sometimes for simple, simple marijuana possession."
Discussion of Badon's bill went on for over an hour.
Badon wants those already in prison for marijuana possession to be able to petition to have their sentences reexamined for possible early release. Badon says the shortened sentences under his bill will save the Department of Corrections millions each year.