Debate Heats Up Over Law Charging 17-year-olds as Adults

Debate Heats Up Over Law Charging 17-year-olds as Adults

A new law authorizing 17-year-olds to be charged as adults recently came into force. With this new law, jails across the state may experience changes in how they function.

Louisiana’s criminal system recently decreased the age of consideration for minors by enacting legislation that allows 17-year-olds to be prosecuted as adults.

Senate Bill 3 Act No. 13 went into force earlier this month. It specifies that 17-year-olds who commit crimes will no longer be prosecuted as juveniles, but as adults, and can be detained in the same jails as them. Acadia Parish Sheriff KP Gibson says there are benefits and downsides to discussing the new law and housing minors.

“A person fifteen to seventeen, if this crime of violence can be tried as an adult if they or the grand jury indicted as an adult,” he stated. “I think that looking at is kind of that double-edged sword is part of it, because of a crime, in part because of the housing issues that happened with that?”

Gibson says one of the main difficulties he’s seeing is the debate over whether juveniles should be charged as adults and housed with them.

“I truly think the hardest topic is, you know, how people feel, and I’m 18 years old, so I can vote or do other things. In the non-criminal world, I am regarded as an adult; nevertheless, in the criminal world, I am present. “We see that crime has escalated or grown slightly in that age group,” Gibson stated.

Gibson explains that, despite conflicting perspectives, it is cheaper to hold 17-year-olds in jails rather than detention centers. “Well, housing a person inside of an adult facility, you know, it’s not as expensive as going to juvenile detention costs upwards of $300 a day for a juvenile,” he said.

According to Gibson, before the new rule decreased the age of criminal consideration, there was a modest increase in the frequency of 17-year-olds committing crimes. He thinks the law and its potential impact on juveniles and jails is a contentious topic, but he feels that increased parental involvement could reduce juvenile criminality.

“I would tell you that these are a few things that keep people from committing crimes.” And it starts with mom and dad or whoever is taking care of the child. As of April 19, the rule says that anyone aged 17 or older will be charged as an adult if they break the law.

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