Raise the Age bill wins final House approval
BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana House of Representatives gave final passage to the Raise the Age bill, that will allow juveniles, including 17-year-olds, to be placed in the juvenile justice system.
The bill passed the House by a vote of 97-3 with 21 co-authors.
"This is a significant step forward for Louisiana as we work to reform our criminal justice system," Gov. John Bel Edwards said.
"We know that at 17 a young person's brain is still developing. We recognize this when it comes to voting, joining the military, or even buying a lottery ticket. Appropriately, under this bill district attorneys retain the authority to decide, case by case, whether to prosecute an individual as an adult. We are no longer giving up on our young people; rather we are giving them a chance to get their lives back on track. I look forward to signing this bill into law," Edwards said.
Instead of automatically sending 17-year-olds to the adult criminal system as the state has done for decades regardless of their offense, the state's new default will be to send them to the juvenile justice system where they will have a greater chance of being rehabilitated.
Prior to the bill passing the House, it has been 108 years since the state reviewed the age children could be criminally prosecuted as adults.
The author of the bill is Senator J.P. Morrell of New Orleans.
"This measure will go a long way toward modernizing and improving Louisiana's criminal justice system," Morrell said.
"It's clear that children should not always be tried as adults. Not only is this much better for their futures, but it saves taxpayers money and makes our communities safer and stronger," Morrell said.
The bill now heads to the Senate for concurrence.