He Reversed Reforms In Louisiana To Be ‘Tough On Crime’

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Zain Murdock
May 14, 2024

Louisiana has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S. In 2017, reforms were passed to reduce the prison population and bolster re-entry programs. As a result, incarceration and recidivism rates dropped, saving the state over $150 million. But this year, Louisiana’s new governor, Jeff Landry, with a Republican supermajority, undid all the progress. Why?

Landry campaigned by stoking fears of crime and demonizing Black cities. Since his election, he’s pushed ’90s “tough on crime” style legislation, including charging minors as adults, expanding methods of execution, and eliminating most parole.

His thirst for punishment over eradicating the actual causes of crime succeeded. Business leaders who’d loudly advocated for the reforms stayed quiet after being advised to “choose their battles.” Reforms are often discussed as the most effective or legitimate way to change conditions for people impacted by the criminal legal system. But even the most minimal reforms face limitations, contradictory processes, and reversals.

That isn’t exclusive to Louisiana, either. Since 2020, anti-police protests, pandemic-related crime spikes, and widespread copaganda have resulted in bipartisan support for harsher legislation in states like California, Tennessee, and Georgia.

Politicians like Landry attack reforms because they undermine the narrative that to handle crime, we need punishment, violence, and dehumanization. But if we want lasting change, reversible reforms can’t be our end goal. Our rights should be non-negotiable.