- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 1, 2015

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - For the first time in years, Louisiana’s prison population is starting to decline.

Corrections Secretary Jimmy LeBlanc told lawmakers Tuesday that the state has seen a drop of about 3,000 state inmates since 2012. He credited a stronger focus on re-entry programs for inmates leaving prison and changes to sentencing laws.

The secretary said from 2006 to 2009, the state added an average of 1,200 new prisoners a year. LeBlanc told the House Appropriations Committee that if Louisiana had continued that pace, prison costs would have been $90 million higher next year, when the state is projected to have about 38,000 inmates.

He said the drop was not about fewer people entering prison, but about fewer people returning after they leave.

Louisiana has the nation’s highest incarceration rate.

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