In Louisiana, the rates of incarceration are staggering. A recent report that was published by the Justice Reform Task Force in the state shows that Louisiana now has the largest number of imprisoned adults compared to any other state in the nation. Among those in the prison system, the vast majority are individuals who are nonviolent offenders and are people who often return to prison after being out just a short time.
A Step in the Right Direction
With surrounding states also utilizing a “tough on crime” approach to handling criminal cases but not having as high incarceration rates, Louisiana officials are now looking to find other ways to reform the manner in which they handle individuals who break the law. As stated, the vast majority of those in Louisiana prisons are nonviolent offenders who have drug possession charges and/or were convicted of other crimes that were nonviolent. Given this fact, the cost of maintaining prisons, which includes housing and providing services for inmates while incarcerated, is exorbitant and is already breaking the bank during the first few months of 2017. Furthermore, many men and women who are convicted of crimes frequently return to prison more than once, which also emphasizes the need for change within the state of Louisiana.
Some states in America have implemented their own diversion programs and other services to help convicts achieve an education, learn job skills, and avoid future jail time as a means of both reducing their own incarceration rates and helping men and women change their lives for the better. In Louisiana, while some similar programs also exist, additional services are needed to address an issue that is impacting this problem in this part of the country.
African Americans and other communities are deeply impacted by crime in Louisiana. In fact, many individuals are not exposed to an alternative way of living, as engaging in criminal activity is commonplace in areas in which community members are just trying to get by and provide for themselves and their families. Additionally, countless people in Louisiana are also grappling with mental illness and addiction and either do not have access to the services they need to become well again, or cannot afford to partake in the mental health and/or addiction services they need. Combine ongoing environmental exposure to crime and untreated mental illnesses and addiction, and what results is a state now trying to figure out how to reduce crime and help men and women receive care for the concerns that contribute to criminal behavior.
With Prison Reform Comes Improved Community Health
Law enforcement agencies in other parts of the country are now being trained to identify individuals who may be struggling with mental health and/or chemical dependency concerns, and are implementing protocols for how to proceed when someone they encounter is clearly struggling with these issues. Not to say that battling such problems excuses criminal behavior, but by intervening with a new approach, it is hoped that by linking these individuals to the right services and diversion programs, the number of people in prison will decrease.
In Louisiana, the results of this report certainly speak to the need for this sort of alternative approach. Many of the men and women currently in prison are repeat offenders who are grappling with mental health concerns, drug and alcohol addictions, or a combination of these problems. Ideally, early intervention and effective treatment will be afforded to individuals in Louisiana so that they can be healthy, productive members of their respective communities. Rather than arresting nonviolent offenders, convicting them, and putting them in a cell when mental health and addiction problems are present, it is possible for the state of Louisiana to see a decrease in the number of prison inmates and a reduction in the cost required to maintain prisons in the state.
Acadiana Addiction Center, a provider of high quality addiction and co-occurring mental illness treatment in Louisiana, hopes to be part of the solution in helping men and women alike achieve the healthier, sober lives they both desire and deserve and avoid interactions with the legal system. Via effective and life-changing residential treatment that incorporates transformative methods of care, the treatment experience at Acadiana is unlike any other. Men and women receive the ongoing support and encouragement required to uncover the root causes of addiction and develop the skills needed to stay in recovery and make sound decisions that can serve them well for a lifetime. In choosing Acadiana Addiction Center as the place to overcome addiction and chemical dependency concerns, and the mental health disorders that often accompany these issues, it is very possible for men and women to heal and recover from the problems that contribute to criminal behavior and prevent becoming part of the prison system in Louisiana.