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Juvenile crime bill passes committee

by Minden Press-Herald

LSU Manship School News Service

BATON ROUGE—A House committee advanced a bill Tuesday that would delay the implementation of the “Raise the Age” law requiring 17-year-olds to be prosecuted as juveniles instead of adults.

Plans for the change had passed the Legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support in 2016 and were set to take effect July 1.

But concerns have arisen about the financial impact since it costs more to house people in juvenile facilities, which are focused on rehabilitation, than in adult jails.

The new bill, sponsored by Ronnie Johns, R- Lake Charles, would push back the start date for the change to March 1, 2019 for nonviolent 17-year-old offenders and March 1, 2020 for 17-year-old violent offenders. It passed unanimously in the Senate last week.

The House Administration of Criminal Justice Committee advanced the bill to the House floor in an 8-3 vote.

A previous version of the legislation was heavily criticized for including language that would have allowed for further delay if adequate funding remained unavailable. That language was dropped, but financial concerns remain a key issue.

Guy Cormier, assistant director of the Louisiana Police Jury Association, said that adopting the reforms this year would place a serious burden on police juries and parish governments. He said that it cost $275 a day to house a single offender at a juvenile correctional facility.

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