By:Sabrina Wilson/ Fox 8/ Feb. 8, 2024
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -A special legislative session focused on crime starts soon at the state capitol and lawmakers will likely consider some of the recommendations a committee appointed by incoming governor Jeff Landry came up with.
Landry appointed a Crime Transition Council and Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission served on the panel.
One of the recommendations centers around allowing the public and police to easily access information in the criminal justice system by enhancing data collection and dissemination.
Another calls for creating a juvenile justice system that is more transparent.
“So they’re going to take a good look at the Children’s code and maybe consider legislation will revise, opening up more information to the public and to the criminal justice officials, so they can make more informed decisions about violent juvenile offenders,” said Goyeneche.
That includes when juveniles escape from custody.
“Absolutely, absolutely,” said Goyeneche.
And there is a recommendation to change the age at which juveniles can be charged as adults.
“It used to be in 2015, in 2016 it was age 17 that you be considered an adult. we changed it with the criminal justice reform legislation, increased it from 17 to 18. I think that what this panel recommended; let’s take a look at that because the reality is when a juvenile offender commits a crime of violence, there is a strong likelihood that that case will be moved from the juvenile system to adult court for prosecution. So the age is a rather minor difference,” said Goyeneche.
Richard Pittman is director of juvenile defender services with the Louisiana Public Defender Board.
He said, “17-year-olds are in the juvenile system in 48 states. Most figured out how to make it work decades ago. It should not be this hard.”
Brandon Davis, Ph.D. is a an assistant professor at Tulane University in New Orleans. He has done work on ‘contact with police’ and state correctional policy.
” I think that if they’re going to reduce the age of 17, you’re going to be putting younger people in jail for longer periods of time. And so that’s not going to fix the overcrowding problem or the cost to the correctional facilities in Louisiana,” said Davis.
And there is also a recommendation by the Crime Transition Council to enhance protections for law enforcement.
Goyeneche says it is not meant to be a license for police to engage in misconduct on the job.
“What was discussed is, are there ways that we could codify under law that will provide more protections to officers that are doing their lawful duties now that doesn’t mean that it’s going to that’s going to give police officers a free, free rein to commit unlawful or unconstitutional practices, but providing them with more protections that would assist law enforcement in recruiting and retaining more police officers,” he said.
Davis was asked about the idea of giving law enforcement more legal protections.
“Police have now the qualified immunity so I’m not sure how much this adds to that. But the fact that New Orleans in itself has a deficit of police officers, it may be kind of like a hiring policy initiative to get more people in. But what we need to know is what other activities are included in the immunity,” he said.
There is also a recommendation to have the state look at programs it is funding that are supposed to reform criminals. Goyeneche says about 80% of the inmate population are third and fourth offenders.
And he says its counter-productive to reduce the amount of time people released from jail are under parole.