The landmark criminal justice reform package of 2017 was heralded as a bipartisan initiative to reduce Louisiana’s nation-leading incarceration rate and to help those leaving prison successfully reenter society.

A piece that got less attention at the time is embedded in the collective title given to the ten new laws: The Louisiana Justice Reinvestment Package. According to Act 261 by then-state Rep. Walt Leger III, D-New Orleans, 70% of the savings from reducing the prison population must be reinvested, and 20% of that is earmarked for victim services.

The Baton Rouge area will start seeing the fruits of that reinvestment this week with the opening of the new Capital Area Family Justice Center. The CAFJC will serve eight parishes, helping victims of domestic and dating violence access advocacy, children and youth services, counseling, and other services.

The center is being established with $750,000 awarded in 2018 as part of the first round of grants announced by Gov. John Bel Edwards. An additional $950,000 was slated for victim reparations, child predator technology, computer interface with parish clerks of court to notify victims of an offender’s release or movement within the system, and administrative costs.

It’s money that was well saved — and that we believe will be well spent.

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