A Louisiana House committee advanced legislation Wednesday that would make offenders sentenced to life in prison as juveniles eligible for parole after a certain number of years. The legislation would only apply to certain crimes.
The House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice voted without objection to send Senate Bill 317 to the full House for consideration.
SB317 by state Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, is one of several proposals filed this legislative session to address a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The ruling held that a life sentence without the possibility of parole is too harsh for juveniles who are not serving time for murder.
The case that sparked the ruling was a Florida teen who was sentenced to life in prison for taking part in a home invasion while on probation for a restaurant robbery.
In Louisiana, the ruling applies to inmates who were convicted as juveniles of aggravated rape or aggravated kidnapping. Currently, they can be sentenced to life in prison without parole, depending on their age.
The state Department of Corrections estimates more than 200 offenders are serving a life sentence who were 17 or younger at the commission of their crimes. Of those, 192 are serving time for aggravated rape or aggravated kidnapping.
The bill entered the committee with a requirement that the offender serve 25 years of the sentence and reach the age of 45 before becoming eligible for parole. The offender also would have to behave while behind bars.
At the urging of prosecutors, the committee amended the bill to require offenders to serve 30 years without any limitations on age.
After advancing SB317, the committee looked at House Bill 283 by state Rep. Dalton Honore, D-Baton Rouge, and House Bill 344 by Lopinto.
HB283 and HB344 also were filed in response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
The committee agreed to make the proposals identical to SB317.
Also on the agenda was House Bill 753 by state Rep. Marcus Hunter, D-Monroe.
HB753 would allow offenders sentenced to life in prison as juveniles to become eligible for parole after serving 20 years.
Hunter voluntarily deferred his legislation after SB317 advanced.
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