In a bold statement Eddie Rispone has directly attacked one of John Bel Edwards’ main liberal policies, his criminal justice reform. As I recall the governor made a big deal out of the “injustice” of our high incarceration rate. Of course, he didn’t bother to acknowledge that crime is very much a personal choice. No one must rob, steal, kill, or do anything illegal if they don’t choose to. We all have free will and the choice to commit crime is a highly personal choice.
In response to the Rispone attack the Edwards’ camp had in the can a pre-filmed defensive ad starring a few DAs who support his position. But in fact, are these DAs supporting the actual implementation of his campaign promise or are they supporting a whole different concept?
When he ran for office, the governor stated that we incarcerate too many and that he was going to reduce that by 5,500 convicts, intimating that he didn’t care how. That was it. Only later did he co-opt an effort by conservatives to lower incarceration rates, but that effort was to do so in a strategic way that would assure that those released could successfully merge themselves back into society.
When the bills came through the Legislature many of them appeared to be much more akin to the “lets just cut them loose” thinking of the governor. To me the only way that a reduction in jailed criminals can work is if those to be released have received some training that would enable them to survive in society without crime, and then if they can find meaningful work. Sadly, once the savings from the bills started to be discussed it was divided up among all sorts of things, the majority of which had nothing to do with preparing ex-cons for meaningful work.
The governor didn’t care, all he wanted was to play up to his constituents who seem to believe that there is a vast conspiracy just to lock people away. What he seems to be achieving is what his campaign promise was, to dramatically reduce the numbers, not change the lives of those released.
So now Eddie Rispone is criticizing the governor’s failure and those DAs are arguing that the reductions are fair and working. Based upon my experience during the legislative process with many Sheriffs and DAs, I suspect that they would respond favorably to the concept of early release, but only when aligned with ample preparation for re-admittance into society. Since this is not what the governor has implemented, the Rispone attack ad may be far more on point than the governor’s response.
It is too bad that the governor has chosen to play politics with the lives of convicts. It is too bad that the governor has chosen politics over the safety of the honest citizens of Louisiana.
There are many convicts who would be able to assimilate successfully into society, but just unlocking the door and letting them go without proper preparation is a recipe for disaster.