Having grown up in Louisiana, I can say this piece is rather spot on about the courts and culture there. There is very much a feeling that you're not living in a modern, cultured democracy there but rather a medieval theocracy with plumbing and semi-paved roads. From a criminal perspective, there is very little focus put on rehabilitation. Everything is focused on the punishment aspect.
When I was in junior high, I went on a field trip to Angola. It wasn't one of those scared straight type of programs... honestly, I don't know what the point was. It was billed as some sort of reward for well performing students.
We toured the grounds, were showed the old electric chair like it was some sort of totem, and met some of the inmates. I talked to a few of them about their sentences, and it was telling what the state considers as real crime in my opinion. One was in for attempted murder. 15 years, would probably be out in less than 10. Another had been arrested for dealing marijuana. Life sentence. Of course I have no idea about anything surrounding the crimes, and my young-teen aged self never even thought to ask, but from what I've seen since then drugs are typically viewed as worse than violence for some reason.
The truly sad thing is that I don't see the state getting better any time soon. The education budget is continuously cut, poverty is endemic, racism is not even hidden in a depressingly large number of communities, and the people continuously vote against their own interests in the name of social conservatism.