NEW ORLEANS — In an exclusive WWL-TV Gubernatorial Election poll of 800 Louisiana voters, a slight majority of respondents were against Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards' desire to abolish the death penalty and offer clemency to inmates currently on death row.
Fifty-one percent, mostly Republican white men over the age of 45, said they disagreed with the governor's stance, while 41 percent said they were in favor of the proposal.
Edwards, who is term limited and cannot seek re-election, received 51 clemency applications after a bill to end capital punishment failed in June.
He referred to the use of judicial homicide as “inconsistent with Louisiana’s pro-life values, as it quite literally promotes a culture of death."
Edwards urged the state's Board of Pardons to hear the cases of the 56 inmates seeking commuted sentences, with 20 of them being granted a hearing date between mid-October through Nov. 27.
Republican Attorney General Jeff Landry – and 2023 Louisiana gubernatorial frontrunner – is a death penalty advocate, and he took issue with Edwards' position.
'"The governor is out there right now trying to circumvent a constitutional pardon and parole system," Landry told NOLA.com earlier this month. "Every one of those people on death row has had a jury of their peers convict them not once but twice."
Louisiana has held 28 executions since the Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, with the last one in 2010 by lethal injection.
Voters can hear from candidates vying to be the next Louisiana governor in a live debate on Thursday, Sept. 7 broadcast on WWL-TV and its social media streaming platforms at 7 p.m.