In mid-March, the Department of Public Safety and Corrections teamed with Crime Stoppers and the Louisiana Lottery Corporation to produce 20,000 decks of cards to be distributed to the public and inmates with the faces and basic information regarding 52 currently unsolved murders in the state. The time span of the crimes ranges from one to thirty years ago.
The cards will be on sale to inmates for prices ranging from $1.30 to $1.50 per pack and will be free to indigent prisoners and the public during Nation Crime Victims’ Rights Week at various events. James Leblanc, the secretary of the state’s Public Safety and Corrections Department, believes this will be an effective means of closing unsolved cases due to prisoners’ propensity to play cards. He states, “Our offender population loves to play cards. When they’re not working, they’re playing cards. … And they’re talking during those games.” LeBlanc learned of this program at a National Sheriff’s Association meeting almost a year ago and its effectiveness in states such as Florida and Minnesota and hopes to achieve similar results.
In order to facilitate the program’s effectiveness, two more policies have been instituted: anonymity and rewards. Anonymity will be maintained through a cooperative effort with Global Tel Link, the company that provides telephone service to the dozen state prisons. Calls to Crime Stoppers will now be free of charge to inmates and will not be recorded and those who provide information will not be identified. This, they believe, will further encourage prisoners to participate in the program. In addition, Crime Stoppers will also be offering rewards of up to $2,500.00 to inmates for their information. Sid Newman, executive director of Baton Rouge’s Crime Stoppers Inc., sees this as especially effective because “it’s a lot of money to an inmate.”
In the future, there are hopes to expand the program to parish jails as they are also seen as possibly holding a wealth of information.