BATON ROUGE, La. (KLFY/AP)– A proposal to raise Louisiana’s adult prosecution age one year, to 18 has passed a Senate committee in one of the first legislative discussions on the state law in 108 years.
Raise the Age Act a bill proposed by Senator J.P. Morell would raise the age at which children can be declared judicially in the juvenile justice system at the age of 17.
In a press release from the Governor’s office, Gov. Edwards praised the passage of the bill.
“Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, as the legislation proposed, makes sense,” says the Governor, “In Louisiana, adults usually means 18. Seventeen-year-olds can’t vote, serve on juries, join the military, or buy a lottery ticket. There’s only one exception, kids are automatically charged, jailed, and imprisoned as adults the day they turn 17, regardless of their offense.”
Edwards says all nine states that treat teenagers as adults regardless of the charge have pending legislation to raise the age. Louisiana is one of the only nine states that exclude all 17-year-olds from the juvenile justice system, even for the most minor, nonviolent offenses.
The Louisiana Governor says that he supports the measure because it a good public policy, and that research shows that the juvenile justice system does a better job at preventing relapsing back into a previous condition.
“That means fewer future crime victims, and less money spent on incarceration down the road.”
Josh Perry, the Executive Director at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights says,
“Governor Edwards has shown extraordinary leadership in a difficult time by making ‘Raise the Age’ a priority.”
The Raise the Age Act passed out of the senate committee on Judiciary B today without objections.