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New Orleans Re-Entry Program

Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country. Those that have spent any significant amount of time in prison understand the difficulties or re-entering life upon release. This includes readjusting to family life, freedom to make your own choices, and especially the workforce. This is one of the many reasons why a criminal defense lawyer will fight for your case as much as possible to avoid jail time and lower an offender’s punishment. New Orleans and Orleans Parish have developed a re-entry program to create a better and possibly easier experience to re-enter society after spending time in jail.

What is a Re-Entry Program?

In 2010, judges Arther Hunter and Laurie White of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court were determined to figure out a way to fight ineffectual prison sentences which, due to a lack of skills or training, left released offenders unable to find employment upon release, and were prone to recidivism. They worked together with the Louisiana Department of Corrections to develop a re-entry program that provides released offenders with the skills necessary to seek gainful employment. They cited that when offenders are released from prison to re-integrate with society, they are left with no housing, lack education, and usually do not have job training. The judges were also concerned about abuse treatment and developing family support mechanisms for ex-cons.

How Does the Orleans Re-Entry Program Work?

The Orleans Re-entry program ultimately wants to enhance public safety, reduce the number of repeat offenders, and lower crime by giving released offenders a second chance and providing them with the skills and training that they need to re-acclimate to society. The Orleans program is a collaboration with Angola Prison and provides vocational training and certification programs that allow non-violent offenders to learn useful trades, which can hopefully translate into meaningful employment. The five step process includes:

  1. Sentencing / Referral: The judge sentences an inmate to the Angola Prison for a non-violent crime and is recommended to the program.
  2. Assessment-Getting Set Up: Psychological and aptitude evaluations are conducted to determine course of action and to help ensure basic support for the offender.
  3. Action Plan – Addressing Academic Needs: Offenders can exit Angola with a minimum of a GED along with certification in at least two different trades.
  4. Release: Upon completion of the program, offenders are released on parole.
  5. Follow Up: Offenders check in monthly the judges.

To date, the program has been 70% successful! Some examples of the vocational training provided to those in the Orleans Re-entry Program include automotive technology, culinary arts, collision repair, plumbing, eyeglass technician, carpentry, electrical, HVAC, graphic arts and heavy equipment labor.

If You Aren’t Recommended For the Program, There is Diversion

There were some recent updates to the Orleans Parish Diversion Program. Now, only in Orleans Parish, the court will take your [guilty] plea first, then they’ll hold your sentencing open until you complete the Diversion Program assigned to you. Once you complete the Diversion, you go back to court one more time, and only then will your case get dismissed. Since this is a new program, criminal defense lawyers in New Orleans don’t know what will happen if the offender fails to complete his or her Diversion. Additionally, not all judges are accepting it. We don’t know what’s going to happen. If you fail out of diversion – they don’t know if you are held to your original plea or if you can withdraw it.

Call Crescent City Law to Learn About Re-Entry and Diversion

Do you have a loved one who was recently arrested for a crime that may result in jail time? You should consider calling a qualified criminal defense lawyer with years of experience with the judicial system in Orleans Parish and Jefferson Parish. Orleans Parish provides opportunities for offenders to re-acclimate with society and also receive training and education upon release. To learn more about these programs, please call Crescent City Law at (504) 264-9492 or e-mail us here. We are available nights, weekends and off-site and have translators for Spanish, French, Mandarin and Cantonese Chinese.

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