The 2017 Louisiana Survey: Large Majority Favors Criminal Justice Reform

BATON ROUGE – Results from the 2017 Louisiana Survey show there is strong, broad support for reforming the state’s criminal justice system.

The Louisiana Survey, an annual project of the Reilly Center for Media & Public Affairs at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication, identifies the opinions of Louisiana residents on important public policy areas and shares those opinions with state policy decision makers.

Large majorities of people surveyed favor three criminal justice reform proposals included in the 2017 Louisiana Survey:

  • Shorter sentences for people convicted of non-violent crimes (75 percent);
  • more alternatives to prison – such as drug treatment or rehabilitation programs – for people convicted of non-violent offenses (86 percent);
  • abandoning mandatory minimum sentences in favor of more flexibility for judges to determine sentences (72 percent).

There is a substantial difference between how blacks and whites evaluate the fairness of the current criminal justice system in Louisiana. Whereas a large majority of blacks (71 percent) disagree with this statement, whites are split almost evenly – 41 percent disagree and 44 percent agree. Despite their differences in how they perceive the fairness of the current system, criminal justice reform is popular among both blacks and whites.  

The survey also asked about trends in the crime rate. Sixty-five percent of Louisiana residents believe that the amount of crime in the state has increased over the past five years. Perceptions that crime is on the rise have grown by 10 percentage points since 2015, the last time this question was included in the Louisiana Survey.

About the Louisiana Survey
Since 2003, the Louisiana Survey has tracked public opinion about policy issues in the state. The 2017 Louisiana Survey was administered over the telephone from February 23 to March 23, 2017, to both landline and cell phone respondents. The project includes a representative sample of 1,012 adult Louisiana residents. The total sample has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.     

A copy of the report is available at This is the third in a series of six releases on results from the 2017 Louisiana Survey:




Contact Michael Henderson
Public Policy Research Lab


Ernie Ballard
LSU Media Relations