2018 Louisiana Laws
Revised Statutes
TITLE 15 - Criminal Procedure
RS 15:321 - Purpose; duties of the commission; conducting of evaluation of sentencing structure; report

Universal Citation: LA Rev Stat § 15:321 (2018)


§321. Purpose; duties of the commission; conducting of evaluation of sentencing structure; report

A. The enactment of statutes defining criminal offenses and the establishment of ranges of penalties for those offenses is a matter of substantive law solely within the prerogative of the legislature. The determination and imposition of sentence in particular cases is generally the function of the sentencing court, subject to appellate review and to mandatory sentences provided by law.

B. The legislature has determined that the best interest of the state would be served by the development and implementation of a uniform sentencing policy for use by the Louisiana judiciary. The sole purpose of the Louisiana Sentencing Commission is to assist the judiciary and the legislature in formulating such policy.

C. The legislature further determines all of the following:

(1) Criminal sentences should appropriately reflect the seriousness of the offender's crime and should meet the multiple objectives of punishment, deterrence, and rehabilitation.

(2) An equitable system of criminal justice must ensure that crimes of similar seriousness result in similar sanctions for similarly situated offenders.

(3) Significant disparities in how similar crimes are treated diminish the public's trust and faith in our criminal justice system.

(4) The system of criminal sanctions in the state of Louisiana has grown increasingly complex.

(5) A comprehensive review of Louisiana's sentencing structure will provide the state with crucial guidance to ensure the imposition of appropriate and just criminal sanctions and to make the most efficient use of the correctional system and community resources.

D. The commission shall conduct a continuous review of the state's sentencing structure based upon existing criminal law and law relative to criminal procedure. The commission may recommend only sentencing and post-conviction relief legislation as may be necessary and appropriate to achieve a uniform sentencing policy that ensures public safety and the imposition of appropriate and just sentences in terms that are clear and transparent and which make the most efficient use of the correctional system and community resources. Legislation may be recommended by the commission only upon approval by a two-thirds vote of the commission members present.

E. The commission shall conduct a comprehensive review of Louisiana's current sentencing structure, sentencing practices, probation and parole supervision, and the use of alternatives to incarceration, including a review and evaluation of all of the following:

(1) The existing statutory provisions by which an offender is sentenced to or can be released from incarceration, including but not limited to home incarceration, electronic monitoring, unsupervised and supervised parole and probation, good time diminution of sentence, intensive incarceration and intensive parole supervision, and work-release programs.

(2) The existing sentencing provisions as to their uniformity, certainty, consistency, and adequacy.

(3) The lengths of incarceration and parole and probation supervision that result from the current sentence structure and the incentives or barriers to the appropriate utilization of alternatives to incarceration.

(4) The extent to which education, job training, and reentry preparation programs can both facilitate the readiness of inmates to transition into the community and reduce recidivism.

(5) The impact of existing sentences upon the state criminal justice system, including state prison capacity, parish jail capacity, probation and parole resources, judicial operations, and law enforcement responsibilities.

(6) The relationship that a sentence or other criminal sanction has to public safety and the likelihood of recidivism.

(7) The expected future trends in sentencing.

F. In undertaking its review, the commission may request documents, conduct public hearings, hear the testimony of witnesses, and take any other actions it deems necessary to carry out its functions.

G. The commission shall make biannual recommendations for amendments to state law, pursuant to the provisions of Subsection D of this Section, that will maximize uniformity, certainty, consistency, and adequacy of a sentence structure to provide for all of the following:

(1) That punishment is aligned with the seriousness of the offense.

(2) The safety of the public is protected through the deterrent effect of the sentences authorized and the rehabilitation of those that are convicted.

(3) That appropriate consideration is accorded to the victims of the offense, their families, and the community.

H. Reports of the commission shall include but not be limited to an evaluation of the impact that existing sentences have had on length of incarceration, the impact of early release, the impact of existing sentences on the length of community supervision, recommendations for sentencing and post-conviction options, and an analysis of the fiscal impact of the commission's recommendations.

I. The commission shall issue a report of its findings and recommendations every two years. The commission shall issue its initial report on or before March 1, 2010. All reports shall be submitted to the governor, the chairmen of the House committees on the administration of criminal justice and judiciary and the chairmen of the Senate committees on judiciary B and C.

Acts 1987, No. 158, §1; Acts 1995, No. 942, §2; Acts 2008, No. 629, §1; Acts 2010, No. 856, §1; §1; Acts 2014, No. 86, §1.

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