Addressing Overcrowding at Caddo Correctional Center: A Call for Systemic Change
The Problem of Overcrowding
For over 18 years, the Caddo Correctional Center (CCC) has been operating above its designed capacity of 1,070 inmates. As of November 12, 2023, the jail was housing 1,376 individuals, with close to 1,000 awaiting trial or waiting for adjudication (KSLA).
The growing number of individuals housed at the CCC is not due to an increase in admissions, but rather an increase in the length of stay for those being held there (KSLA). In 2022, individuals held for pretrial spent almost twice as long at the CCC as those held in 2012 (KSLA). This overpopulation is not only dangerous to inmates and staff, but it is also unsustainable from a cost perspective for the Parish (KSLA).
The Work of the Criminal Justice Task Force
After evaluating criminal justice data for a year, the Criminal Justice Task Force, which consists of individuals from various agencies within the parish, has developed 16 specific recommendations to address overcrowding at the CCC (KSLA). These recommendations include both short and long-term solutions (KSLA).
The Task Force presented some of its recommendations during a news conference hosted by the Shreveport Chamber of Commerce on November 14, 2023 (KSLA). Erica Bryant, a Task Force member and Caddo Parish Administrator, notes that “I am encouraged that the leaders of our public safety community were able to come together to create a plan to begin addressing these systemic issues” (KSLA).
The Need for Systemic Change
While the recommendations put forth by the Task Force are a step in the right direction, there is a need for systemic change to address the issue of overcrowding at the CCC. Additional measures, such as bail reform, diversion programs, and sentencing reform, must be taken to reduce the number of individuals being held in pretrial detention and to create a more equitable criminal justice system.
Bail reform is a crucial step in addressing overcrowding at the CCC. Individuals who cannot afford bail are often held in pretrial detention, even if they pose no flight risk or danger to the community. This practice disproportionately affects low-income individuals and people of color. By implementing a risk assessment tool that considers factors beyond an individual’s ability to pay bail, such as their flight risk and criminal history, courts can make more informed decisions regarding pretrial detention. This will not only reduce overcrowding at the CCC, but it will also help to create a more just and equitable criminal justice system.
Diversion programs, such as drug courts and mental health courts, provide an alternative to incarceration for individuals with substance abuse or mental health issues. Rather than being held in pretrial detention or serving time in jail, individuals can participate in these programs, which offer access to treatment and support services. By diverting individuals from the criminal justice system and providing them with the resources they need to address underlying issues, we can reduce the number of individuals being held in detention and prevent future incarceration.
Sentencing reform is another essential measure in addressing overcrowding at the CCC. Mandatory minimum sentences and three-strikes laws have contributed to the over-incarceration of individuals, including those who pose no risk to public safety. By revising sentencing guidelines and providing judges with more discretion in sentencing, we can reduce the number of individuals being sent to jail and create a more proportional and equitable criminal justice system.
The issue of overcrowding at the Caddo Correctional Center is a pressing concern that requires immediate action. While the recommendations put forth by the Criminal Justice Task Force are a step in the right direction, additional measures are necessary to create a more just and equitable criminal justice system. Bail reform, diversion programs, and sentencing reform are all critical components of this effort. By working together to address this issue, we can create a safer, more just, and more equitable community for all.
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