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Louisiana Senate Bill 3 would redefine ‘child’ in terms of juvenile offenders

By Donna Keeya and Curtis Heyen


(KSLA) — An effort is underway in Baton Rouge to redefine what it means to be a child when it comes to being a juvenile offender in Louisiana.


Basically, Louisiana Senate Bill 3 would consider 17-year-olds as adults for the purposes of criminal prosecution.


“So if you’re a juvenile, you’re a 17-year-old, you commit a crime, you’re an adult, and they’re going to put you in big-boy court.” Caddo District Attorney James E. Steward explained.

LSU Shreveport criminal justice major Harvey Cole thinks SB 3 would be beneficial “because you’re seeing not only in juveniles, but also like younger children, the way that they’re acting is a lot more advanced.”


Cole, who is from a smaller Northwest Louisiana, said his studies have opened his eyes to the risks all around.


“You’re hearing more and more in the news and articles and stuff that age is getting younger and younger,” he said. “And when you’re looking at the difference between 17-year-olds and 18-year-olds, there’s not much of a difference, I would say in my opinion, mentally, other than that legal factor of being considered an adult.”


What happens to offenders is a lot different when they are considered juveniles rather than adults, the district attorney said.


Stewart also talked about how SB 3 would impact Caddo Correctional Center (CCC) if the legislation is adopted as amended.


“There’s been this complaint of how full CCC is. So now you’re going to be taking a whole year of people, booking them into CCC, and if they can’t make bond, they’re going to be housed at CCC,” Stewart said. “So, from jail overcrowding, that’s going to be a matter.


“And there’s some federal laws that designate 17-year-olds still as juveniles. And they provide certain requirements that have to be done in detention centers. So that’s going to be an issue for the new sheriff.”


The district attorney said SB 3 also could make it easier for them to deal with juveniles with guns. He said 17-year-olds with guns is a major problem.


Right now, not all such cases are transferable from juvenile court to adult court, Stewart said. “But if they’re booked in as 17 years old, then we’ll have a way of dealing with them a little more seriously than we could have if they were in juvenile court.”






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