Landry Calls Governor A “Crafty” Obstacle

The latest in the weeklong back-and-forth between Attorney General Jeff Landry and Gov. John Bel Edwards over the death penalty is a letter from Landry: “You make the unremarkable observation that other methods of execution ‘are not allowed by Louisiana law,’” it reads. “While this is true, you avoid the simple truth that the law can be changed.”

The governor’s office counters that Landry “has not offered a single bill” since 2016. “We are pleased that he (Landry) has conceded that current law, not the governor, is standing in the way of the state resuming executions," wrote the governor's chief of staff, Richard Carbo, in a reply to the letter. "We will review his suggestions and hope to re-start a constructive dialogue.”

For some background on this one, Mark Ballard has the story for The Advocate. And in case you missed Landry yesterday in an on-air interview with 101.7/710 KEEL, here's some of Landry from that conversation:

— On legal action: "Back in 2016, when we took office, the suit had been dragging on. We had not carried out an execution since 2010. When we got involved, we looked at the case, we listened to what the lawyers at the time, who had been involved in the case, were saying. In an effort to try to get our hands around the issue, we agreed to an extension to the state. Which was back in 2016. From that point forward, we had numerous conversations with the Department of Corrections to outline paths forward in methods under which we could go back in carrying out these executions. Each and every time, when we laid those out, we understood, and — look, I respect that, that (sic) the secretary of the Department of Corrections has to answer to the governor. That’s who he’s appointed to. That’s who is boss is. So, ultimately, he had to get signed off on for us to move forward. That never occurred. Then, fast-forward, we don’t hear anything, there’s no movement, nothing’s going on. They decide — they did not communicate with us — to an additional extension… That was the straw that broke the camel’s back.”

— On the death penalty: “We have laid out a multitude of possible solutions. Other states all around us have worked through the same particular issues and have been able to carry out their executions. Here’s my concern: My concern is for the public safety. It’s for the safety of our citizens. When you have a rule of law, when you have sentences and you don’t carry them out, that is not in any way a deterrent from crime. That is an encouragement of crime… Right now, we have over 70 people sitting on death row and we haven’t carried out an execution since 2010. The state of Arkansas, several months ago, a number of months ago, a good friend of mine, the attorney general for them, Leslie Rutledge, was able to break through the legal blockades and put seven up them up in 24 hours. Now, not all of them were carried out, but I think they carried out two or three of them, okay? And speaking of, she tells me that it absolutely made a difference.”

— On the governor: “The media has consistently asked him (the governor) about it. He has never answered the question of, ‘Do you or don’t you support the death penalty?’... He is a complete obstacle. Here’s the interesting point: The governor, he is so crafty. I’ll give him that, you know? He is so crafty at convincing the public as to what they want him to do, while he does the opposite, okay? Because he was like, ‘Well, the attorney general never put forth the legislation.’ The governor put the legislation in session a record number of times to raise taxes when he wanted more money out of the taxpayer. The governor, with his leadership, put forth all of his criminal justice reinvestment bills out there, that let all these people out of prison in early sentencing. His Pardon and Parole Board, if you go back and look at the number of pardons and commuting of sentences — and this is, again, he said, ‘I’m for taking care of nonviolent offenders.’ I would beg to differ that his record shows differently. So right now, he’s saying, right now he has admitted since I raised this issue, that (sic), ‘Well, you know, we need a legislative fix.’ Well, let me tell you, where has he been?”

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