Senate committee passes Raise the Age Act

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BATON ROUGE – Today, Governor John Bel Edwards praised a Senate committee’s passage of the Raise the Age Act. Senator J.P. Morell’s bill would raise the age at which children can be adjudicated in the juvenile justice system at the age of 17.

Gov. John Bel Edwards
Gov. John Bel Edwards

“Raising the age of juvenile jurisdiction, as this legislation proposed, makes sense,” said Gov. Edwards. “In Louisiana, adult 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.”

It has been 108 years since Louisiana reviewed the age at which children are treated as adults for the purpose of criminal prosecution. Today, Louisiana is one of only nine states that exclude all 17-year-olds from the juvenile justice system – even for the most minor, nonviolent offenses.

“I support this measure because it is simply good public policy,” said Gov. Edwards. “With an eye toward public safety, research shows consistently that the juvenile justice system does a better job at preventing recidivism. That means fewer future crime victims, and less money spent on incarceration down the road.”

“Governor Edwards has shown extraordinary leadership in a difficult time by making raise the age a priority,” said Josh Perry, Executive Director at the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights. “Solving our budget crisis and fixing our broken justice system require courage and creativity, and the governor has shown both in finding a solution that will save public dollars, make our neighborhoods safer, and stop unnecessarily pushing nonviolent children into adult jails and prisons.”

Students from around the state have come together in support of the Raise the Age Act. Student organizer, Jasmine Jeff, a Senior at Sci Academy in New Orleans said, “With other students from around the state, we stand united. Raising the age is good policy, good for kids — young people like us — and good for our state.”

The Raise the Age Act passed out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary B today without objections.