The National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) section presented a 2016 Notable Documents award to Dr. Stephen Phillippi, and his colleagues at the Institute for Public Health & Justice at Louisiana State University-New Orleans for the publication of A Legislated Study of Raising the Age of Juvenile Jurisdiction in Louisiana: The Future of 17-Year-Olds in the Louisiana Justice System.
[Photo: Dr. Stephen Phillippi]
The LSU School of Public Health’s IPHJ study was the first to uncover the fact that over 6000 17-year-olds were being arrested each year and treated as adults. It further found that the vast majority of these youth received permanent adult records for non-violent crimes, including things like marijuana possession, fighting, or trespassing, while many were still completing high school. In comparing the juvenile to adult system outcomes for these youth, LSU found that it was apparent that the adult criminal justice system was much slower to react and consistently reporting higher recidivism rates, thus ultimately threatening public safety. Finally, along with the likelihood of lowering crime if 17-year-olds were processed as juveniles, the Institute’s study projected lower, long-term system costs. At a time when Louisiana’s state budget and an over reliance on mass incarceration is at its worst in history, this report was timely and the catalyst for policy change. The State of Louisiana Legislative Act 501, resulting in part from this report, raised the age of juvenile jurisdiction to include 17-year-olds, and was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards in May of 2016.
Dr. Phillippi is the Director of the Institute for Public Health & Justice, an Associate Professor, and Chair of Behavioral and Community Health Sciences at the LSUHSC School of Public Health-New Orleans. Co-authors of the study include Dr. Peter Scharf, Mr. Gene Siegel, Dr. Ellen McCann, Ms. Rebecca Atkinson, and Ms. Patricia Arteaga.
The report and supporting documentation can be found online at: http://sph.lsuhsc.edu/Websites/lsupublichealth/images/pdf/iphj/RAISE_THE_AGE_DRAFT_20160128Final.pdf