May 2, 2017 02:56 PM

The House Criminal Justice Committee voted Tuesday to move to full debate on the House floor a bill allowing a person sentenced to life in prison to apply for pardon or commutation 15 years after being arrested, rather than 15 years after sentencing.

The bill’s author, Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans, says the average person spends three to ten years in prison before being sentenced to life. Under current law, a lifer that spends three years in prison before being sentenced would spend a total of 18 years in prison before becoming eligible to apply for a pardon.

“I’m surprised this happens,” said Barbara Norton, D-Shreveport. “[Those prisoners] are here, but they’re not here.”

HB205 would also allow lifers who have been denied pardon to reapply after three years, instead of five.

“This bill allows us to better account for time served,” Bouie said.

The measure received no opposition, but amendments will be offered on the House floor that would tighten the language to ensure the time served is consecutive without bail.

Sponsored by