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Spending OK’d for Louisiana criminal justice revamp savings

August 10, 2018
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Rep. Tony Bacala, R-Prairieville, left, talks with Sen. Sharon Hewitt, R-Slidell, about financial data during a meeting of the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018, in Baton Rouge, La. (AP Photo/Melinda Deslatte)

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — State lawmakers have agreed to an $8.5 million spending plan for the first dollars saved by shrinking Louisiana’s prison population through sentencing law changes enacted last year.

The state corrections department says Louisiana is spending $12.2 million less this year than it would have spent on prisons because of the overhaul. Under the law, 70 percent must be reinvested in the criminal justice system.

The joint House and Senate budget committee voted without objection Friday for the $8.5 million list.

Much of the money will be steered to sheriffs to increase programs aimed at keeping exiting inmates from returning to crime, such as education and work programs. Some money will pay for transitional housing for people leaving prison. And $1.7 million will be spent on programs for victims of crime.

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