This is going to come off as an attack on JMC Analytics pollster John Couvillon, and it’s absolutely not intended that way. But a poll Couvillon conducted in January is being flogged by Louisiana governor John Bel Edwards, under whose watch the Bayou State has become a cesspool of criminality and violence, as proof he’s successful on the issue.
The Louisiana governor’s office says results of a JMC Analytics poll show that Louisiana voters are in support of the 2017 bipartisan criminal justice reform package.
The governor’s office said according to the poll, 70% of Louisiana voters, which includes 63% of Republicans, think it’s more important for the justice system to reduce the repeat offenders rate than it is to incarcerate non-violent offenders for a longer time. The poll also showed 83% of voters believe the state should be easier for previously incarcerated residents to get jobs.
“This poll proves that the broad bipartisan support for criminal justice reform in 2017 has not changed among Louisiana’s voters,” said Governor John Bel Edwards. “Our reform focused on reducing recidivism by lowering the number of non-violent, non-sex offenders in our prisons and investing the money saved into job training, juvenile justice initiatives, victims services, and re-entry programs run by respected community organizations like Goodwill, United Way, and Catholic Charities. Conservative and non-partisan experts agree that our bipartisan criminal justice reform was a success and that by focusing criminal justice system resources on violent offenders who pose a threat to public safety, our reform helped our criminal justice system during the nationwide increase in violent crime following the COVID-19 pandemic. There is too much crime, and we have more work to do. The people of Louisiana know that the way to reduce crime is to continue the bipartisan, data-driven, smart-on-crime approach we have taken.”
Here’s the actual question from the poll…
Somehow this is a validation of John Bel Edwards’ record on crime? Let’s look at some other questions that poll asked back in January, and how the folks responded…
Well gosh, that sure doesn’t seem like a great endorsement of the status quo after seven years of John Bel Edwards being in charge, does it?
The poll itself was clearly meant to engage respondents along the lines of the “criminal justice reform” narrative, which is to say that “non-violent” offenders ought to do their time and then be rehabilitated with things like job training and expungement of records based on good behavior, and the like.
And that polls well, because at the end of the day the people of Louisiana, like people all over America, simply want to have fewer criminals on the streets. If converting criminals who haven’t really hurt anybody into non-criminals can be done, that’s what we want.
But that isn’t what John Bel Edwards has done as governor, and it’s certainly not what the local law enforcement people and those in charge of the criminal justice system in this state are up to.
And everybody knows it.
John Bel Edwards has overseen such a deterioration in law enforcement in Louisiana that the State Police, which he controls and has badly abused since the beginning of his tenure as governor, is now 300 officers short of its funded strength. LSP is in such bad shape that it can’t serve as a ballast to the crumbling police forces of New Orleans and Baton Rouge and other cities, something our disgraceful state media, which spends most of its time talking about crime, refuses to highlight.
There have been more than 2,200 car thefts in Orleans Parish since the first of the year. More than 230 rapes and sexual assaults. Some 495 burglaries. New Orleans is hardly alone. We’re awash in murders, carjackings, armed robberies. It’s career criminals, not the nonviolent offenders, who are responsible – and they’re not being taken off the streets.
Some 51 percent of the poll respondents say they’ve been victims of crime. That’s an astonishing number.
Edwards has done nothing about that, and it’s clear why. He panders to the criminal class just like his fellow Democrats do.
Except the primary victims of the criminal class aren’t white Republicans in the suburbs. They’re black people in the cities whose neighborhoods are war zones.
A friend of mine was in a conversation on a plane, and he was talking to two New Orleans French Quarter business owners. He said both of them had the same message – COVID-19 was devastating and put their businesses in trouble, but crime in the city is all but a death knell. They said they’re on their last legs, because every aspect of their operations is made near impossible because of crime.
The customers won’t come because the streets aren’t safe. Money is lost because the criminals rob them. Employees don’t want to work for fear of their safety when the crooks come to the store. Vendors and suppliers are less reliable because they’re dealing with the same logistical difficulties thanks to crime.
Eventually it becomes untenable. That’s why in places like Chicago and San Francisco the big-box retailers have packed up and left, and it’s why North Baton Rouge is a commercial desert populated only by industrial businesses with big razor-wire fences around their property. You can’t do business in an area overrun with criminals, and you soon give up trying.
Edwards is presiding over this, and rather than take responsibility he trots out three-month-old poll numbers on subjects everybody agrees about in order to claim approval. It’s illegitimate and pathetic and it won’t wash.
Next week we’ve got a legislative session coming. Here’s hoping Edwards is made to answer in some way for his horrific performance on crime.