Debate over inmates early release reignites after robbery

White was one of 1900 inmates released as part of the State's Justice Reinvestment Act. An act that's purpose was to remove Louisiana's name from the top of the list when it comes to incarceration.

NEW ORLEANS -- "This guy is 24-years-old. He has over a 40 page rap sheet in Jefferson Parish alone." 

That is why Kenner Police Chief Michael Glaser says releasing inmate Tyrone "Smokey" White was a big mistake.

"It's very frustrating, because we spend a lot of time and resources through the years with this one individual in the city of Kenner. He has been arrested over 60 times for burglaries and various other crimes," Glaser said. 

White was one of 1900 inmates released as part of the State's Justice Reinvestment Act. An act that's purpose was to remove Louisiana's name from the top of the list when it comes to incarceration.

State Senator Wesley Bishop of New Orleans says the law was crafted through bipartisan support. He also says even though White committed an armed robbery five days after his release, that doesn't mean passing this law was a mistake. 

"I think that's really shallow minded to think that particular way," Bishop said. "There's actually 1900 people, actually 1899 individuals. At least today have done the right thing." 

Gov. John Bel Edwards also says White's actions don't represent the thousands of other people the law affects. 

"I wish that everyone who got out would never re-offend, but we're never going to have," Edwards said. "I suspect, a recidivism rate of zero. That's our goal. That's what we're working towards, but we're not going to get there anytime soon. But this individual will pay the consequences for what they've done." 

Charles Ballay, District Attorney for Plaquemines Parish, believes more analysis should have been done before anyone was released.

"Even though he met the minimum time period for being released, obviously, the risk assessment that was done on him was not appropriate," Ballay said. "When we referred to other states who put some of this in place like Texas, Texas invested $200 million before they started releasing people. They put the right risk analysis tools in place. The number of probation officers that were necessary. They had all of those things in place before people were being released."

The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections released the following statement tonight: 
 
"Unfortunately, after being given another chance at becoming part of society, it seems as though Tyrone White squandered that opportunity," their statement reads. "This week, law enforcement in Jefferson Parish responded quickly to the incident involving White, who is in custody and charged with armed robbery. Probation and Parole was immediately notified about the incident and his subsequent arrest. That means the system is working. 

At the time of his release on November 2, 2017, White was serving time for simple burglary, which is not listed as a violent crime under Louisiana law. He was incarcerated approximately four years. Prior to his early release, he met with a transition specialist and received 100 hours of re-entry programming. 

Some parolees will re-offend, but the reforms are working and we cannot let anecdote trump proven data to prevent us from adopting evidence-based strategies that have increased public safety in many of our neighboring states, and it will work in Louisiana as well." 

© 2017 WWL-TV


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