Raise the Age Louisiana

In 2016, the legislature overwhelmingly approved a bill to include 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system - bringing Louisiana into line with the vast majority of states.

The Raise the Age Louisiana Act will include 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system, holding kids accountable in settings that are safe and suited to their unique needs.

In 2016, Raise the Age received overwhelming bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature, and was included in Governor Edwards’ legislative package.  The issue drew over 300 high school students to the Capitol for Louisiana Youth Justice Day, where youth, correctional officials, and politicians called for the need to keep all children in the juvenile justice system.

The resulting law – Act 501 – calls for a two-year planning stage before taking effect in two phases:

  • As of July 2018, 17-year-olds charged with nonviolent offenses – the vast majority of those arrested – will be included in the juvenile justice system.
  • As of July 2020, 17-year-olds charged with any offense will be included in the juvenile justice system.

The law does not apply retroactively or change the ability of district attorneys to transfer certain cases to adult court.

Raise the Age is good for Louisiana because it’s good for kids, families, and communities.  Adult justice facilities are dangerous for children and lack the rigorous programs and mental health services they need in order to turn their lives around.

The juvenile justice system, on the other hand, is designed to hold kids accountable in an age-appropriate, rehabilitative setting.  It keeps kids and communities safe: children held in juvenile facilities are much less likely to reoffend than those held in adult jails and prisons.  Increased public safety and decreased incarceration can save the state millions of dollars each year.

The Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, a network of over 70 organizations that advocated for the bill, will continue to work to ensure that Raise the Age is implemented in a safe, smart, and timely manner.

Check out our press room for full media coverage of Raise the Age Louisiana.