LSU Helps Louisiana Decrease Incarceration, Increase Workforce, Save >$150 Million Annually

April 05, 2021

Saving Money Through Justice Reinvestment

Through faculty collaboration, student effort, and by using big data analysis to evaluate the risk prisoners pose to society and the needs they would have upon release—merging expertise in sociology and law—LSU has helped lower the Louisiana prison population by almost one-fourth in three years, saving the state more than $150 million annually.

Since 2018, the Louisiana Department of Corrections uses TIGER, an LSU-developed tool, to help evaluate the risk posed by every incarcerated person in each of the eight prisons and many local jails across the state. All Louisiana prisoners now have a TIGER risk score, which guides critical decisions, such as who should (or shouldn’t) be released on parole. The tool also evaluates incarcerated persons’ needs (such as mental health, a history with substance abuse, ability to get stuff done), which helps parole officers be almost surgical in how they invest their time and resources to prevent recidivism, which also has gone down in recent years.

Andrew Hundley from Eunice, Louisiana spent 19 years in prison as a juvenile lifer at Angola before getting out in 2016, in part through LSU faculty efforts. While getting his bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in criminology from LSU, he started Louisiana Parole Project, an advocacy, support, and peer mentorship organization staffed entirely by former lifers like himself. They use TIGER, too, to evaluate who they could help the most by connecting low-risk people with a place to stay, training, and jobs.

“I try to be careful about how I use the tagline, ‘from tax burdens to tax payers,’ but our organization has seen bipartisan support based on economics alone,” Hundley said.

Andrew Hundley

Andrew Hundley

– LSU

“When I first started working for the Louisiana Department of Corrections, we had nothing to help us do triage and objectively evaluate individual prisoners. Nothing but our experience and the biases that came along with that. We were flying by the seat of our pants with the limited resources we had, and there was no way to do true case management. TIGER, as a state-of-the-art tool, helps all of us get the leg up. We’re able to prioritize our resources and reinvest state funds where we get the biggest bang for our buck.”

- Assistant Secretary Rhett Covington, Louisiana Department of Corrections