St. Charles Herald-Guide

Less jail time may be better

Our View - July 12, 2013

It is disturbing to learn that Louisiana jails a greater percentage of its citizens than any other state in the country. Hopefully, it is not because we have more criminals around but rather because our laws and practices have provided for that situation.

But there may be good news ahead. Gov. Bobby Jindal has signed a bill into law that increases drug treatments for non-violent offenders, which allows them to go on probation while undergoing treatment for drug addiction. This would only be in cases where they do not create a danger to society.

Besides the possibility of creating good citizens out of them, it is much less expensive to try and cure someone than to put them up in jail for long periods of time, which would happen in many cases without treatment. And our state has been spending a considerable amount of money in crowding up its jails.

According to an article in the Baton Rouge Advocate, Gov. Jindal called it being "smart on crime" when he signed the bill to allow more treatment and less jailing. "There are a number of low-risk, non-violent drug offenders in our prisons who can still turn things around and become productive members of society instead of repeat offenders," the governor said in signing the bill. "This common-sense piece of legislation will provide these offenders with the treatment they need to recover and safely re-enter our communities."

In fact, there is a coalition of conservatives around the country working to decrease the number of jail inmates by teaching them new ways of life. After all, most people can change if they see a better way of doing things that can make them happy and less destructive human beings.

Itís time to expand on new ways to treat criminals that will make them worthwhile individuals rather than continue in their evil ways. And if they can get a pat on the back for treating their problems instead of clanging the jail door in their faces, we all will be better off.