District Attorney Jason Williams has directed his assistant DAs to no longer oppose applications for pardon and parole. With exceptions being made only in extraordinary cases and with proper approvals in advance, it is a decision best made by corrections professionals equipped to assess rehabilitation, accofrding to a statement released by Williams’ office.
Williams announced the new policy today (Jan. 26) as one designed to help end mass incarceration in Louisiana.
“I made a commitment to the people of New Orleans that we would be serious about working to end mass incarceration,” said DA Williams. “My directive to end the default practice of opposing pardon and parole applications for those who are eligible removes an unnecessary hurdle to a productive life outside of prison for those who have been rehabilitated as determined by trained corrections officials. My office is focused on increasing safety and justice and this policy moves us in that direction.”
Williams plans to announce more “transformative policies” in coming weeks and months, according to a statement from his office, which also read that “the District Attorney remains committed to working and advocating for survivors of crime and victims’ families through each stage of the criminal legal process. This policy reflects the recognition that the expertise to determine whether to grant or refuse applications for pardon and parole lies with the Louisiana Board of Pardons & Parole.”
Leaders in the criminal justice reform movement locally welcome the policy change.
“The criminal legal system entails a collaboration of different actors and leaders elected, appointed, and hired for specific responsibilities,” said Will Snowden, director of the Vera Institute of Justice, in the statement released by Williams’ office. “The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Division of Probation and Parole is best situated to assess when an individual is ready to be safely returned to our communities. We applaud the new policy of District Attorney Williams to not take a position, but for certain circumstances, on whether or not a person should be released on probation or parole while relying on the assessments of the probation and parole officers best situated to make that determination.”