Louisiana Survey: Majority support criminal justice reforms, Medicaid expansion

A majority of the people who participated in the 2018 Louisiana Survey think the state is making progress on both criminal justice reform as well as Medicaid expansion, says Michael Henderson, director of the Public Policy Research Lab, which conducted the survey. However, those same people believe there’s still much work to be done.

Though criminal justice reform remains popular in Louisiana—61% of participating residents say they approve of the sweeping policy changes made in 2017—just over half the respondents (54%), including a rising number of Democrats and non-white residents, believe the system remains unfair.

Most criminal justice reform support comes from Democrats and Independents, according to the fifth installment of the Louisiana Survey, a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. Republicans, meanwhile, are split almost evenly in their support of criminal justice reform.

A similar pattern appears when it comes to the expansion of Medicaid: 69% of respondents say they approve of the state’s expansion of the Medicaid program, with an overwhelming 92% of Democrats and solid 68% of Independents supporting it. Republicans, on the other hand, are evenly divided, with 47% approval and 46% disapproval.

Additional survey results include:

  • Support for criminal justice reform may be waning: 64% of respondents, compared to 72% a year ago, backed judicial discretion in sentencing over mandatory minimum sentences.
  • Those saying crime has increased over the last five years (68%) hasn’t changed much from 2017 (65%).
  • 58% of Louisianans favor the death penalty.
  • A proposal to add work requirements and copayments to Medicaid has received a majority of bipartisan support.

The Louisiana Survey has been conducted each year since 2003 and was conducted twice in 2006 to measure public opinion in Louisiana. This year’s survey included 852 Louisiana respondents and was conducted via telephone between Jan. 26 and March 3. It has a margin of error of 3.4 percentage points. The fourth installment revealed that a majority of Louisianans want a more active state government.

The survey’s first installment showed a growing share of Louisianans are pessimistic about the direction the state, and a large majority of respondents believe the state is more politically divided than in the past. The second installment showed Louisianans favor tweaks to state income tax rates over sales tax changes to address the “fiscal cliff.” See the full results of the third installment.

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