John Bel Edwards on Crime
Louisiana has the highest incarceration rate in the country, and we lock people up at a rate of nearly twice the national average. But our crime rates are comparable to other southern states. As elected officials, we have an obligation to acknowledge when an aspect of our government is broken and we must work together to find a solution.
In 2015, we made a commitment to re- If adopted into law, this package will safely reduce our prison population by 13%, and it will save taxpayers over $300 million over the next decade.
[Two Louisiana shootings were captured on video, on which] "police killed a black man who was minding his own business," says the director of ACLU-LA. But it was the civil rights of police officers that Edwards was concerned about in May, as if theirs were being routinely violated.
The new law places police officers, firefighters, and EMTs under protection from hate crimes: A defendant convicted of a felony could get an extra five years in prison with hard labor and a $5,000 fine.
Edwards said he's not against more flexibility in the budgeting process, but that "more flexibility alone won't fix the structural problems in our budget that have led to the sweeping of these dedicated funds by Bobby Jindal, and the drastic cuts he has made to higher education and healthcare."
As to solutions to the current budget conundrum, Edwards pointed to a recent study that examined the question of whether all of the current $7 billion in annual tax giveaways are productive for the state's economy. "It is time to invest in our people. We can start by reducing or eliminating the parts of tax giveaways that just aren't producing what they promised," said Edwards.
"No great city is going to be great for long if it doesn't have the adequate ability to police itself," said state Rep. John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic candidate running for governor.
Edwards, Public Service Commissioner Scott Angelle and Lt. Gov. Jay Dardenne agreed the extra state troopers in the French Quarter are needed now. But New Orleans should probably provide the additional law enforcement itself eventually. Edwards was the most emphatic about establishing a timeline for state police withdrawal. Dardenne and Angelle were a bit more speculative about when the troopers should be pulled out of New Orleans.