BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A bill that would raise the age of a person who would be tried as a juvenile was sent to the full Louisiana Senate Monday.
SB 324, also known as the Raise the Age Act, would allow 17-year-olds to be tried in a juvenile court. Under the new bill, 18-years-old would be the new age where someone would be considered an adult in the eyes of the law.
"Louisiana is one of only nine states where 17-year-old offenders are recognized as adults, no matter how minor their offenses," said Governor John Bel Edwards. "Not only are we are out of step with the rest of the country, but this is not the right way to treat our children and it is costing our state too much money. However, it is important to note that under this bill, district attorneys maintain their authority to prosecute as adults any juveniles who commit violent crimes."
CLICK HERE for the highlights of what the Louisiana State Legislature will be looking at this week.
The Louisiana Senate Finance Committee moved the bill to the full senate after a study done by the Institute for Public Health and Justice found the following:
• There is a growing consensus, based on a large body of scientific evidence that 17-year-olds are developmentally different than adults and should be treated as such. They have a far greater potential for rehabilitation and are particularly influenced – for good or ill – by the environments in which they are placed.
• The last several years of reform in the Louisiana juvenile justice system have created a capacity to accept, manage, and rehabilitate these youth in a manner that will predictably generate better outcomes than the adult system.
• In the states that have recently gone before Louisiana in raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, and those states have found that the negative fiscal impacts on their systems was substantially less than first predicted. In fact, those states have reported substantial fiscal savings.
The full study can be found here.