2024 Department of Corrections Budget Breakdown 🕵🏽

Have you read the 2024 DOC Budget? We have. And we think you should too. Or at least some highlights. Snag our full 2024 DOC Budget Explainer, on our website: https://www.voiceoftheexperienced.org/s/2024_03-DOC-Budget-Explainer.pdf.

Our hope is to make the DOC Budget more transparent and accessible for our community including legislators, elected officials, media, reporters and investigators. We should all know where our tax dollars are and are not going. If our budgets are moral documents, let’s see where our morals lie.



Budget documents are one of the best ways to cut through the chatter and get down to the numbers. What are we trying to do, and how much are we spending on it? From the time Gov. Jeff Landry ran for office to the time he celebrated his “special crime” legislation, one would guess a few things based on not just his words and deeds, but the people around him.  

First, they believe that the way to prevent crime is to ensure someone is convicted, incarcerated, and not released for as long as possible so they can commit no more crimes (at least not until released). Second, they don’t believe in the concept of rehabilitation, change, second chances and helping people assimilate back into society. Finally, they are willing to write a blank check to achieve goal number one. With that said, it is increasingly difficult to understand the mission of the Department of Corrections if it reverts into a place of hopeless and brutal punishment that incites more crime than it prevents.  

What follows is a look into the overall funding, a framing of the incarceration industry as a Louisiana employer, and the peculiar usage of local jails to handle a state obligation. Download the full budget here

Despite the number of people incarcerated going down since the 2009 – 2012 peak, the cost of locking people up continues to climb past $1 billion dollars and beyond. 

One look at the overall budget, and it is clear prisons are a massive part of the statewide budget and are at no risk of being cut. 

To cover up this major expense, politicians might seek to focus on “user fees,” such as probation fees, canteen profits, telephone kickbacks, or medical co-pays. 

The users, however, are overwhelmingly penniless and it never adds up to any substantial percentage of the budget. 


Why is incarceration so steep? The majority of funding goes to staffing expenses (more on that below), and to the thousands of retired staff who continue collecting a pension. Unfunded Accrued Liability (“UAL”) is not our expertise, but this is the amount of expected monies owed that do not have funds set aside. You can see that the Corrections budget has over $103 million (18%) going to UAL and retiree’s insurance.  

Another major cost is medical care for patients in prison. According to the DOC, in their legislative presentation, total medical care spending is “somewhere around $100 million.” The monies are partly found in bills for people sent to the outside doctors, partly in the particular facility’s budget, and partly paid out to the local jails where people are detained.  

The Legislature’s 2024 Special Crime Session passed several new laws that should make the medical costs skyrocket as people get older. Eliminating parole (including medical and geriatric) and major cuts to Good Time credits will increase sentences. Narrowing parole for people already inside (unanimous parole decision) will turn other people’s sentences into Death Sentences. 

The Lewis v. Cain case on Angola’s unconstitutional health care is forcing that institution under federal receivership. Costs will go up as care becomes legitimate. And lawsuits should begin against every facility that houses people, as none of them provide anything close to a reasonable standard of care. 

In the Corrections budgets, you will see them broken out by the overall statewide administration, and then each of the facilities in the system. The Louisiana State Penitentiary, AKA Angola, has the most incarcerated people who are the oldest and most likely to die in custody. Every facility budget has a few things that stand out: 

  • Office of Risk Management fees (Angola: $12.9m) 
  • Medical services ($1.1m) 
  • Vehicle financing payments ($1m) 

Angola also has $1.6m going to Badge Ferry, which likely refers to the prison ferry that crosses the Mississippi River for employees. It is unclear if that ferry still operates, and it is well known most of the staff live at the penitentiary itself.  Angola’s budget is also peculiar in having costs for putting on the infamous rodeo, but it is unclear where the profits from these weekends fit into the budget. Meanwhile, every facility will put in costs for purchasing canteen supplies; however, if this is referring to the items incarcerated people are buying with their own funds, we know the prison runs an overall profit on that exchange. 

Looking at the overall summary, it is clear that another big piece is keeping the buildings functional, constitutionally compliant, and large enough to handle the influx of people. One shrinking part of the budget is in regard to Winn Correctional Center. In the Feb. 28 budget presentation at the Senate Finance Committee, it was noted that this prison is being leased out to the sheriff in Winn, “for about a million dollars.” It isn’t clear where that million is reflected. DOC Undersecretary Bickham explained to the House Appropriations Committee (March 6, 2024) that there is a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement in place, and the state can take control back from the Sheriff at any time, with roughly six months’ notice. 


According to the budget report, the mission of Winn Correctional Center is to ”house offenders for the Louisiana Department of Corrections.” However, it isn’t doing that. Instead, they are renting the beds out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). During the Trump Administration’s massive border detention crackdown (which neither turned people back nor let them stay free pending their administrative hearing) Louisiana rented bed space to ICE for nearly 10,000 detainees. This is likely a large reason why the sheriffs had no qualms with the prison system contracting the way it did. The Feds pay a much higher rate per person. With that number coming down quite a bit, perhaps this contributes to why Gov. Landry deployed our National Guard to the Mexican border. 

We are unsure why ICE or Winn Parish Sheriff, who uses LaSalle Corrections to administrate the prison, would want to obscure any details in a contract between two public entities, but it appears that somewhere around $65m is transferred between federal public funds to Winn, according to the Sheriff’s budget report. The entire parish population is only 13,755, and likely includes the number of incarcerated people. It is easy to see why a sheriff’s $14m payroll, pensions, plus local contracts contribute to political influence. 

You may be wondering: Can the state lease out one of its facilities to a sheriff, who can then turn a profit with the federal government? And then pay for some incarcerated workers to help staff the facility? 

It’s important to understand the relationship between state and local facilities. These parish jails were built in bulk during a time when the state subsidized construction costs and guaranteed the population to be detained. A great summary of this process is in “Prison Capital” (2023) by Lydia Pelot-Hobbes, who was a recent guest on the “From Chains to Change” podcast (listen here). 

When the state facilities are bursting, the overflow goes to local jails run by sheriffs, with a per diem paid (less than half of what ICE pays the Winn Sheriff). Traditionally, the state/local balance was about 50/50, but taking Winn offline for state incarceration has led to the local jails holding more than the state prisons. While our prisons report only 781 total vacancies, and only 21 releases per day, the local housing has 7,322 vacancies. And naturally, the budget is confusing as to whether Winn is a state or local facility. 

At times, this math does not add up. Rep. Kimberly Coates (D-73) of Tangiapahoa brought up a dilemma in her parish. The local jail is full of state prisoners, for which the sheriff collects the per diem from the state. Meanwhile, there is not enough room for locally arrested people. This forces the parish (not the Sheriff) to pay $800,000 to ship these people out to other jails. 

Also noteworthy in the above graphic are the 1,456 “Re-entry participants” at regional programs inside the local jails. This is a fraction of the 11,870 people serving state time, but part of the programming funded by the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI). For those clamoring “JRI didn’t work,” we never once heard them criticize the sheriffs and their programming.  

The state has an operational carceral capacity of 14,359 (not including Winn), and 13,505 people are housed. Local jails, on the other hand, can hold 39,617 people, and only 12,885 are being held pre-trial. It is clear who stands to gain by decreasing the use of bail, increasing probation and parole violations, and lengthening sentences. And we also are unlikely to see them give back the $26m in savings from JRI. 

With the state prisons relatively stable in population, unless Winn’s lease is canceled, it is the local jails, run by sheriffs, whose funding was in jeopardy by increasing rehabilitation, decreasing recidivism, providing reentry support, scaling back discrimination, and downsizing prisons. The JRI funding to sheriffs was tailored to garner their support. 

For details on Industry Employment (p.11), Costs Beyond The Jail (p.16), and more, read our full explainer: https://www.voiceoftheexperienced.org/s/2024_03-DOC-Budget-Explainer.pdf.

Overview of Special Crime Session Laws PASSED ✍🏻

As anticipated, Louisiana’s Special “Crime Session” wrapped Thursday, February 29th with devastating speed. In just 10 days, almost the entire slate of proposed legislation passed. These bills will cost taxpayers millions while making us less safe and roll us back to failed policies of the past.

Here are 22 bills to be mindful of:

Act 1 / SB 1: Anyone over 18 (w/o felony conviction) can carry a CONCEALED FIREARM without a permit; can’t carry while under influence; can’t carry in church, parade, airport, place of worship, State Capitol, court, or wherever state/federal law prohibits (“gun free zones”). Any property owner or lessee can prohibit guns on property. (7/4/24) 

Act 2 / SB 2: GUN LIABILITY. No Liability for firearm if caused by “justified use of force or self-defense.” Does not cover gross negligence, intentional misconduct, or if convicted of felony (7/4/24) 

Act 3 / SB 9: SEX OFFENSE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS begins with any newly discovered photo/video evidence. 

Act 4 / HB 3: Opioid funds: Sheriffs DRUG TESTING all people arrested, within 24 hrs of booking; all positive tests are screened for substance abuse disorder and Drug Court eligibility; all found suitable for Drug Court shall be subject to Art. 904 (ineligible for Drug Court if charged w/ violent crime); test results inadmissible in any civil/criminal action (presumably probation/parole violations); all positive tests requires pretrial drug testing program; probation can be up to 8 years; completion of probation is eligible for expungement (but still counts as 1st offense for Habitual Offender tally) (7/1/24). Note: Mislabeled as “drug court expansion,” but any expansion requires additional funding by Legislature. 

Act 5 / HB 6: DEATH PENALTY methods: nitrogen gas and electric chair; process secret; Inspector General will review and certify the vendor of drugs is licensed and not connected to governor or legislators (7/1/24) 

Act 6 / HB 9: ELIMINATE PAROLE, (offense committed after 8/1/24) except under-18, Life or sentence over 25 yrs (25 yr eligibility), 1970s Lifers (currently eligible). (eliminates geriatric and medical; ends 20/45). Leaves only Good Time Parole release; effectively death penalty for anyone sentenced to over 50 years. 

Act 7 / HB 10: “Serve at least 85%” Can only earn Good Time credits up 15% of the sentence, plus up to one-year for program completions; no Good Time while on parole; pretrial Good Time credits still in effect (Art. 880). Applies to offenses committed after 8/1/24. 

Act 8: / HB 11: Increase maximum PROBATION from 3 to 5 yrs (unless in Drug Court’s 8 years); Probation can be extended for unpaid fines/fees; “compliance” requires paid fines/fees; no more Good Time credits; Judge can still early terminate at any time if in compliance; technical violations carry up to 90 days for 1st incident; misdemeanor possession of Marijuana still a technical violation; arrests (including misdemeanors) are subject to full revocation (do not need a conviction), court can order full revocation for Failure to Appear, violation of protective order, failing to complete drug program, failure to report for 120 days. (Offense committed after 8/1/24) 

Act 9 / SB 7: DWI – interlock devices on car for at least 6 months 

Act 10 / HB 4: D.A.s and judges lose discretion to waive procdural bars for out-of-time of repetitive POST-CONVICTION applications; no exceptions  

Act 11 / SB 5: UNANIMOUS PAROLE BOARD; must have 3 years without major infraction to be eligible (was 1 year); A.G. is also notified, all notices must be 90 days prior (was 60 days); parole decisions are void if notification requirements not followed; 3 year wait for rehearing if 1st offense violent crime; 5-year wait for other violent crimes and sex offenses; release date can be revoked prior to release; 

Act 12 / HB 23: All Challenges to CONSTITUTIONALITY of a statute must be served to the Attorney General, to which they have 30 days to reply. 

Act 13 / SB 3: LOWER THE AGE17-year-olds committing a crime after April 19, 2024 are adults. Jails and prisons still must adhere to “sight and sound” separation from people over 18. 

Act 14 / SB 4: JUVENILE mandatory minimum of 2 years on any second offense that is a violent crime (eligible for modification at 2 years, or 50% if sentenced under 36 months), must attain “low risk,” and either earned GED or in workforce training program, and recommendation of OJJ 

Act 15 / HB 1: “TRANSPARENCY” of court records. All criminal court clerks provide public access (via statewide online portal) to minute entries on all cases filed since 2020. No traffic violations. Includes juveniles arrested on violent crimes after Jan. 1, 2024 (can be sealed by a court). Data: Arrest, charging, bail decisions, hearings, identity of judge and prosecutor; clerks are immune from liability. Will expose people whose charges are dropped, including kids in school, and every criminal allegation or conviction for those 17 and up. 

Act 16/ HB 2: LIMIT LIABILITY of “peace officer” and their employers (includes Neighborhood Associations) unless criminal, fraudulent, or intentional misconduct. Gross negligence is now shielded, likely to impact traffic accidents with peace officers (and insurance claims). Police brutality claims can still proceed in federal court. 

Act 17 / HB 5: “Illegal use of weapon” (i.e. firing a gun in the air) is now a violent crime regardless of anyone being hurt.  

Act 18 / HB 7: Carjacking sentences raised: 20 – 30 years if serious bodily injury; 5-20 if not. (Most are charged under robbery statute anyways, carries up to 99 years). 

Act 19 / HB 8:  Possession w/ Intent, or distribution of FENTANYL: 25 – 99 years if “detectable amount” of fentanyl if the product or packaging has “reasonable appeal to a minor.” No minor need be present. No sale need happen. 

Act 20 / HB 19: FUNDING $3m to send National Guard to Texas; $600k to create new Public Defender in Gov. Branch; $22 million to State Police 

Act 21 / SB 10: NO GOOD TIME if 2nd (or more) violent crime; death of first responder = 1-day Good Time per month. 

SB 8: Moves PUBLIC DEFENDER under Executive Branch. Gov. Appoints statewide public defender, subject to approval by Senate majority and PD Oversight Board (9 board members, must have been lawyers for 8 yrs, 4 appointed by the Gov, including Chair; Gov selects one of 3 nominees by LACDL; Supreme Court appoints a retired judge and a juv. Justice advocate; 1 each from Senate President and Speaker of House); State Public Defender approves budgets of district defenders; public hearings for contracts with attorneys or indigent defender organizations, etc.; deletes policy of selecting proportionate minority / women lawyers; State defender must be Louisiana licensed, with 20 yrs experience and 7 years in criminal defense; District Defender contracts can only be 5 yrs max; district defenders stay employed; Oversight board establishes district defender compensation plan; Selection of new district defenders via Committee: one attorney and 2 registered voters from that district (1 appointed by state defender, 1 by district chief judge, 1 by Oversight Board) and submit 3 nominees to the State Defender. All contracts honored through Jun 30, 2024.