(06/18/19) – Back in March Louisiana changed the law, for 17-year olds to going into the juvenile system, instead of being tried as adult. Some residents call it a mistake.
“Stick with the regular age limit which is 16 because were already consider adults when were 17, so it wouldn’t change nothing either way it goes,” Letron Miles, a local resident.
Louisiana is giving prosecutors until June 2020 to make the full transition. Its complicated.
“You can have somebody depending on the kind of charge they have with juvenile charges with something and adult charges for other things so thats taken a little work trying to facilitate that,” Sanders said.
Assistant District Attorney Johnny Sanders says how the law deals with juveniles can vary depending on their circumstances.
“If you never gotten in trouble before or if your a first offender maybe a second offender for something non-violent we have diversion programs that we want to try and get people help in and keep them out of the adult system. Were going to do the same thing for the 17-year olds. Sanders added.
Defense attorneys say they simply need more lawyers to handle juvenile cases.
“It requires people who do work in juvenile court it requires special training, but you know the bottom line is were looking towards what long-term outcomes are going ot be for juvenile defendants,” said Bob Noel, Attorney of Law.
Above all, prosecutors and defenders say they want to keep the community and young offenders safe.
“This is what I tell every group of kids that i talk to is, be careful who your friends are,” Sanders added.
In July 2020, violent offenders will also be included in the law. This means that all underage offenders will have the opportunity to go to a juvenile facility, rather than jail.