Louisiana Governor Jeff Landry news conference National Guard to Texas border

Governor convenes special session: “Crime has put a national spotlight on our great state”  

BATON ROUGE — Monday marked the beginning of a special session at the Capitol involving criminal justice reform with 24 items up for discussion.

The bills proposed range from permitless concealed carry to restoring the death penalty in Louisiana and deciding what method to use.

Combating “murder capital”

“The day-to-day work we are deeply involved in here in this Capitol is improving our economy, protecting our environment and reforming our educational system,” said Gov. Jeff Landry in his open to the special session. “They all lose significance if our communities are not safe. As attorney general, I warned that the goal of the criminal justice system reform should not be about letting people out of jail. It should be about how to keep people from going to jail.”

According to Landry, Louisiana had the highest violent crime rate in the country in 2021, and in 2022, three Louisiana cities were in the top 10 most dangerous cities in America.

“Last year, more children were murdered in New Orleans than any year in the past decade. 280 people were murdered that year in New Orleans alone, earning that city the title of “murder capital” of the country,” the governor added.   

“The proposals we lay out today were constructed by listening to the voices of the people, listening to those responsible for protecting us, listening to those responsible for administering justice and listening to those who matter the most– the victims of crime,” Landry said.

“What we need is truth in sentencing”

Landry introduced the families of several victims of violent crimes. He discussed how it’s crucial and important that the families rely on police, prosecutors and even legislators to get it right. After a sentence is handed down, it should be enforced in its entirety, not a portion of the sentence thanks to “good time.”

“The revolving door is insulting. Right now, up to 70% of a sentence may be removed for “good time”.  This “good time” requires no effort of the inmate to participate in programs that would provide educational, job skill training, or rehabilitative services. Good time is rewarded to inmates with really no effort on their part. It’s like a participation trophy for jail!” he said. “What we need is truth in sentencing that will incentivize inmates to complete certain re-entry programs, earn a GED, learn a job skill, and in doing so earn a reduction in sentence;   preparing them to re-join society in a productive, safe, and responsible manner.  Real rehabilitation not only makes our communities safer, but it is cost effective.” 

“Capital punishment is lawful”

It’s also why the governor is proposing bringing back capital punishment.

“When these sentences are handed down, they form a covenant between the State and the victims, and their family and their friends. Justice requires that we uphold that covenant. Capital punishment is lawful, and we intend to fulfill our legal duty to resume it,” said Governor Landry.

The governor introduced several families where their loved ones were the victims of violent acts. However, when it came to the criminal proceedings, they knew nothing of what was happening. In some cases, they found out after the fact that the suspect was released or went on to continue a life of violence with several more victims. It’s why the governor said it’s time to make it easier to track criminal proceedings.

“Our transparency legislation will allow people to access this information and provide online access to the data from our criminal and juvenile courts. Through this simple and common-sense measure, we hope to ease the suffering of victims, offer more transparency in the legal process, and find better solutions to our crime problem.”

Curbing the violence

The special session will also look to adding a Troop N in New Orleans adding State Police Troopers specifically to the Crescent City to help curb the violence.

One topic of discussion that UWK has covered in depth is what the age should be for a juvenile or adult. The governor wants the age of 17 to return to being adult status, not a juvenile.

The concealed carry bill is up in this special session with the governor addressing lawmakers saying the body has passed it several times, but now there is a governor who will sign it into law.

“It is time Louisiana join 27 other states who have created a constitutional right to carry a firearm without the government’s permission. This body has repeatedly passed it. Now you have a governor who will sign it.”

Governor Landry leaned on his law enforcement background to protect the men and women in uniforms. He wants qualified immunity for law enforcement when it comes to civil lawsuits.

“They have our backs. It’s time we had theirs. Risking their lives for us, should not mean risking civil liability when one makes a good faith error or when faced with a meritless accusation. That is why the qualified immunity we seek in this session will give them confidence and peace of mind as they perform their job.  This proposed legislation will also help us recruit the best and brightest into law enforcement.  It will reduce the number of unnecessary and in many instances, frivolous lawsuits filed against our officers.  All without sacrificing public safety.”  

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