The Louisiana House of Representatives and Senate issued a Concurrent Resolution (#73) on May 29, directing the Institute for Public Health and Justice (IPHJ) to undertake a study of the impact of raising the juvenile jurisdiction age to include 17-year-olds in the State of Louisiana. Currently all 17-year-olds are automatically transferred to the adult criminal justice system in Louisiana.
The study is being funded by the MacArthur Foundation in collaboration with a number of leading juvenile justice organizations in the state. Dr. Stephen Phillippi, associate professor in the behavioral and community health sciences program at LSUHSC School of Public Health, leads the study in his capacity as director of IPHJ.
“We are eager to initiate planning and execution of this study,” commented Dr. Phillippi. “The study will align Louisiana with national research and policy and program standards regarding 17-year-old justice-involved youth.”
The resolution cites the numerous reasons for supporting this study, including the United States Supreme Court’s recognition of adolescent brain development research warranting developmentally responsive treatment of justice-involved youth. The resolution also cites extreme recidivism rates of youth placed in adult incarceration, the fact that Louisiana is one of only nine states regarding 17-year-olds as adults, and that the state has the highest incarceration rate in the nation, with attendant monetary costs.
Dr. Phillippi and IPHJ credit Representative Walter Leger for his support of juvenile justice in sponsoring this resolution. The study which it authorizes will analyze sentencing patterns, the needs of this population segment and the responsive alternatives available in the juvenile justice system.