The Louisiana Senate Wednesday passed 23-13 a bill making juveniles convicted and sentenced to life in prison without parole eligible for parole consideration 25 years after conviction.
The Senate Bill 16 affects 14 incarcerated Louisianans, according to author, Sen. Dan Claitor, R-Baton Rouge.
“Young people are impulsive,” said Louisiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette Johnson at the time of the bill’s introduction. “They make bad decisions. They’re subjected to peer pressure. But we all have occasions where we’ve made bad decisions and it’s all because of that immature brain.”
Claitor made reference to a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2005 that shared that sentiment.
Sen. Dan Martiny, R-Metairie, amended Claitor’s bill and lowered the sentence term from 30 years to the final 25. Additionally, his amendment prevents district attorneys from determining parole eligibility until the 25 years have expired.
“This doesn’t make the crime any less heinous,” Martiny said, adding that the victims’ families will still be upset. But he said SB16 is ideologically consistent with federal law, and allows for consideration of brain development in court.
The measure now moves to the House.