The Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections welcomed 23 new probation and parole officers Thursday.

This is the first graduating class since Louisiana implemented sweeping criminal justice reform a month ago, releasing some 19,000 inmates serving for non-violent offenses.

The class starts their career at a time when case loads are higher than normal.

“We need these people. We need these bright, young minds to come in and embrace this and we feel that these officers are one of our best classes we’ve had,” Director of Probation and Parole for the State of Louisiana Pete Fremin said.

Kaitlin Cowley graduated from the Academy Thursday is one of the new graduates. She said she got into this field because she knows how important probation and parole officers are for making sure people do not reoffend.

“The rest of the world has pretty much thrown away, locked up and forgotten about them,” Cowley said. “We need to take them and show them a way to transition back into society to make them productive members.”

The 23 graduates join around 610 current probation and parole agents around the state who are responsible for supervising more than 70,000 offenders released back into communities statewide.

“These guys have been through six months of intensive training, obviously a lot of that is case management and how we go about implementing our criminal justice reform efforts, so they’ll play a key role into this,” Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections Secretary James Le Blanc said.

Le Blanc said, although the criminal justice reform created more case loads for the department right now, it will decrease case load numbers in the long run.