SHREVEPORT, La. (KTAL/KMSS) – Several laws are set to go into effect Monday in Louisiana aimed at helping law enforcement and prosecutors tackle growing problems involving juvenile crime and punishment.
Juvenile detention centers around the state have struggled with staffing shortages and facility issues that have contributed to multiple escapes and violence incidents. That includes the escape of Shreveport teen Anthony Mandigo in June, who evaded capture for two weeks. It was his third escape from state custody.
The state of Alabama on Thursday ordered Louisiana to pick up juveniles that were housed in the Southeast Alabama Youth Services Diversion Center (SAYS) in Dothan after a riot on July 5 said to have been instigated by three Louisiana teens. As a result, 14 juvenile offenders were returned to Louisiana. SAYS has since announced it will only house offenders from the 11 Alabama counties they cover.
In August, the Office of Juvenile Justice will re-locate some juvenile offenders to the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. Gov. John Bel Edwards made the announcement following the July 18 escape of six teens from Bridge City Center for Youth.
Several of the laws passed by the Louisiana legislature and going into effect on August 1 include provisions related to the prosecution of violent and repeat juvenile offenders, including Act 175, which allows district attorneys throughout the state to use their discretion in prosecuting juveniles as adults for serious crimes.
Under Act 565, juveniles adjudicated for a crime of violence can no longer seek deferred sentencing.
Lawmakers have also tasked the OJJ with creating a tiered system to house juvenile offenders. Act 693 requires that OJJ solidify a plan for housing low, medium, and high-risk youth by January 1, 2023. The act also requires mental health assessments for all juveniles that are in custody.
Act 220 addresses the problem of juveniles being recruited by older people by making it a crime, specifically outlining the crimes of carjacking and activity related to racketeering.
Act 674 authorizes juvenile courts to require parental involvement in probation and other decision-making after the adjudication of juvenile cases.
Changes in the way OJJ uses solitary confinement will be restricted by Act 496. Solitary confinement may only be used as a temporary response to behavior that poses a threat to the juvenile or others in the facility.
To read any of the newly enacted laws, visit the Louisiana legislature website.
- Act 175 – Provides relative to the district attorney’s discretion to prosecute a juvenile as an adult for certain offenses.
- Act 220 – Makes it a crime to recruit juveniles to commit crimes.
- Act 496 – Limits the amount of time that a juvenile can be subjected to solitary confinement.
- Act 565 – Juveniles who have committed violent crimes can not petition for deferred sentencing.
- Act 674 – Authorizes the court to require parental involvement in probation and other court-approved decision-making.
- Act 693 – Creates a tiered system of juvenile facilities.