Louisiana Has the Highest Violent Crime Rate in the Nation, but One Legislator Has a Plan
LOUISIANA (KPEL News) - An FBI report earlier this month put Louisiana at the top of the nation when it came to violent crime. Now, a Louisiana legislator wants to do something about it.
In its annual Uniform Crime Report, the FBI's data shows that the Pelican State had the highest violent crime rate in the nation in 2021.
"Violent crime" is divided into four categories, each of which are the most serious offenses: Robbery, Rape, Aggravated Assault, and Homicide. According to The Center Square, the state's violent crime is far above the nation's average.
In Louisiana, there were 26,078 violent crimes reported in 2021, or 564 for every 100,000 people, the highest violent crime rate among the 41 states with available data. Meanwhile, the national violent crime rate (based on the incomplete data) stands at 334 incidents per 100,000 people.
With the crime rate rising and making headlines in Lafayette and across the state, Shreveport Representative Alan Seabaugh is pushing legislation for next year that could help address the issue.
“So, what we need to first do is study how we got here, why do we have more violent crime, and then secondarily and most importantly propose legislation on how we can fix this going forward,” Seabaugh told Louisiana Radio Network. “When you ‘A’ let people out of jail early and ‘B’ tell them when you get convicted, you’re only going to serve 25% of your sentence it’s a disincentive to law and order."
And it seems as though law enforcement agencies across the state are already on board.
As for support for the creation of a task force, Seabaugh said he’s received positive feedback, especially from law enforcement.
“The Sheriffs’ Association and the District Attorneys Association both came out in favor of it, in fact, they both offered to help assist in drafting the legislation,” said Seabaugh.
Seabaugh plans to introduce the Violent Crime Task Force legislation in the spring, the session begins on April 10, 2023.
Seabaugh, a conservative Republican, is entering his last legislative session as a member of the House of Representatives. He is term-limited, but plans to run for the Senate in 2023. He will likely be facing Mike McConathy in that race.
McConathy is the former longtime basketball coach of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches and is the winningest basketball coach in state history.
The Rise in Crime
According to the Uniform Crime Report, violent crime in Louisiana is far higher than it's been in the last ten years.
But in the city of Lafayette, violent crime is down from a peak of 1,293 reported cases in 2007. The parish sheriff's office also saw a peak in violent crime reports in 2007, with 428 reported that year.
However, both city and parish numbers are not seeing the massive rises seen elsewhere in the state.
Violent crime reports to the sheriff's office are down more than one-third of what they were in 2018, according to the UCR, and reports in the city were up just slightly from 2018 to 2020 (the UCR does not currently have the full data from the Lafayette Police Department, according to the UCR site).