The U.S. Justice Action Network and the Coalition for Public Safety have released a new video examining the groundbreaking Re-Entry Court program at the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as Angola, the largest maximum-security prison in the United States.
**MUST READ: USJAN Deputy Director Jenna Moll – Finding Hope in an Unexpected Place: Louisiana’s Re-Entry Court**
Every year, about 15,000 people are released from prison or jail in Louisiana and almost half return behind bars within five years. This video highlights the coordinated efforts of prison officials, judges, business leaders, faith leaders, and prison lifers to reverse the trend with vocational training and moral education for non-violent offenders.
The program is a sign of hope in a state known for its high incarceration and recidivism rates. More individuals are imprisoned per capita in Louisiana than any other state in the nation, and Louisiana’s imprisonment rate is nearly five times the rate in Iran. But the Re-Entry Court program has made tremendous strides in reducing recidivism.
**ICYMI: Louisiana Family Forum President Gene Mills in The Advocate: Redemption Should Extend to Those Behind Bars**
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Arthur Hunter, Re-Entry Court co-founder: “When Judge White and I put our heads together with the prison wardens and other community leaders, we knew the status quo we were seeing was unacceptable. We could not be more pleased with the changes that have taken place. The transformation we’ve seen through this program in the prison atmosphere and in men’s lives is nothing short of incredible.”
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Judge Laurie White, Re-Entry Court co-founder: “Everyone needs hope to thrive, and the men being released from Angola prison were bereft of it. We desired that this program would equip these men both with valuable skills but also hope for a better future. We have been thrilled to see so many men successfully graduate the program, and we hope this video will inspire others to replicate it through similar efforts around the country.”
Louisiana State Penitentiary Assistant Warden Gary Young: “The role of prisons is not just to punish but to rehabilitate. We would be remiss if we ignored the needs of the men once they leave our walls, and we are proud of how successfully the Re-Entry Court has met these men’s vocational and moral needs and equipped them to live restored lives.”
U.S. Justice Action Network Executive Director Holly Harris: “It is incredibly inspiring to hear of communities banding together with law enforcement and prison officials to break the cycle of incarceration. We urge legislators and communities across the nation to set aside partisan differences and reform our re-entry programs. Rehabilitation should not be optional.”
Coalition for Public Safety President Steven Hawkins: “Change starts in our communities, and we can learn much from examples of successful re-entry programs like Re-Entry Court. We hope that this video will be an inspiration to those looking for impactful ways to bring change to their communities.”