Juvenile murder parole bill advances to full House

Legislation allowing parole eligibility for juveniles convicted of murder cleared a House committee Wednesday.

The big question surrounding House Bill 152 is whether it would apply retroactively, giving incarcerated offenders a shot at freedom after serving 35 years for first- or second-degree murder.

Pete Adams, executive director of the Louisiana District Attorneys Association, said the bill is silent on retroactivity.

“If the courts decide the law should be applied retroactively, this statute will be vehicle for those in jail to gain access,” Adams told the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice.

Still, Adams characterized the proposal as a fair outcome to negotiations on an issue that arose after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

The court ruled that life in prison without the possibility of parole for children convicted of homicides violates the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

HB152, sponsored by state Rep. Chris Hazel, R-Pineville, now advances to the House floor.