Louisianans Support Criminal Justice Reforms, Medicaid Expansion, according to 2018 Louisiana Survey

April 13, 2018

Baton Rouge, LA – The fifth of six reports from the 2018 Louisiana Survey, a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School for Mass Communication, shows that both criminal justice reforms from 2017 and the Medicaid expansion remain popular among Louisianans.

Although criminal justice reforms are popular, 54 percent of people say they do not think the current system is fair, perceptions that are more prevalent among Democrats and non-white residents of the state than they were a year ago.

"The results of the survey suggest that Louisiana is making progress on these issues in the eyes of its residents, but still has work to do to satisfy many Louisianans,” said Dr. Michael Henderson, director of the Public Policy Research Lab, which conducted the survey.

Results of the survey include:

  • Criminal justice reform remains popular in Louisiana. Today, 61 percent of state residents approve of the changes made in 2017, while just 30 percent disapprove. Democrats are the most approving of the policy changes, but approval is high among independents as well. Republicans, on the other hand, are divided nearly evenly.
  • Even as Louisiana residents continue to approve of the state’s changes to its criminal justice system, there is at least one sign that support may be waning. In 2017, 72 percent of state residents supported judicial discretion in sentencing over mandatory minimum sentences. Today, that share has slipped somewhat to 64 percent.
  • The changes to the state’s criminal justice system have not increased perceptions of the system’s fairness. Today, 54 percent do not think the system is fair. These perceptions are more prevalent among Democrats and non-white residents of the state than they were a year ago.
  • Public perceptions of crime remain stable. In 2017, 65 percent of state residents said crime in Louisiana had increased over the previous five years. Today, 68 percent say so.
  • Most Louisiana residents (58 percent) favor the death penalty.
  • Most Louisiana residents continue to approve of the state’s expansion of the Medicaid program: 69 percent approve and 24 percent disapprove. Democrats overwhelmingly approve of the expansion (92 percent), as do a majority of independents (68 percent). Republicans remain divided with 47 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval. However, relatively few state residents (35 percent) even know the state has expanded its Medicaid program.
  • Proposals to add work requirements and copayments to Medicaid receive majority, bipartisan support.

The Louisiana Survey has been conducted each year since 2003 and twice in 2006, establishing rich longitudinal measures of public opinion in Louisiana. The mission of the Louisiana Survey is to establish benchmarks as well as to capture change in residents’ assessments of state government services. The survey is further dedicated to tracking public opinion on the contemporary policy issues that face the state. Each iteration of the Louisiana Survey contains core items designed to serve as barometers of public sentiment, including assessments of whether the state is heading in the right direction or wrong direction, perceptions about the most important problems facing the state, as well as evaluations of public revenue sources and spending priorities.

The survey is a project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs, an integral part of the Manship School of Mass Communication. The Reilly Center’s mission is to generate thoughtful programs, dialogue and research about mass communication and its many faceted relationships with social, economic and political issues.

Read the full fifth report from the Louisiana Survey. View an archive of past Louisiana Surveys and results.

For more information or to schedule an interview with the report’s author, contact smalin@lsu.edu.