BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — State lawmakers questioned whether local jails are capable of housing teenagers when discussing an amendment to a proposed bill that would lower the age to be tried as an adult to 17 years old.
The proposed law, authored by state Sen. Stewart Cathey, Jr., R-Monroe, states that if probable cause shows that a 17-year-old committed a crime of violence then the court should decide if they should be transferred to an adult facility before trial. District attorneys would be able to have a say about trying 17-year-olds as an adult.
An amendment to the bill discussed during the meeting would make sure that the facilities that would hold 17-year-olds are not state Department of Corrections facilities but instead local facilities.
Allen Parish Sheriff Doug Hebert said the problem with housing 17-year-olds is the rules that come along with it. He said they must be kept away from adult inmates, even if a teen is charged as an adult.
Criminal justice advocates said it’s not a good idea to treat 17-year-olds as adults, stating that there are still plenty of opportunities to charge violent juveniles within the adult criminal justice system.
It was decided that the amendment would be withdrawn during the committee meeting. The bill passed out of committee.