EvidenceProf Blog

Editor: Colin Miller
Univ. of South Carolina School of Law

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Cyntoia Brown & the "51-To-Life" Project: Louisiana

This is the nineteenth in a series of posts on the "51-To-Life" Project. In Tennessee, if a juvenile is convicted of first-degree murder, there are two sentencing options: (1) life without the possibility of parole; or (2) life with the possibility of parole, with that possibility only existing after the juvenile has been incarcerated for 51 years. In this post, I will explain why Louisiana treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee. 

In August 2017, Louisiana passed Act 279. That Act created Section 15:574.4 of the Louisiana Revised Statutes, which provides in relevant part that, in order to apply for parole, an offender must meet the following criteria:

(a) The offender has served twenty-five years of the sentence imposed.

(b) The offender has not committed any major disciplinary offenses in the twelve consecutive months prior to the parole hearing date. A major disciplinary offense is an offense identified as a Schedule B offense by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections in the Disciplinary Rules and Procedures for Adult Offenders.

(c) The offender has completed the mandatory minimum of one hundred hours of pre-release programming in accordance with R.S. 15:827.1.

(d) The offender has completed substance abuse treatment as applicable.

(e) The offender has obtained a GED certification, unless the offender has previously obtained a high school diploma or is deemed by a certified educator as being incapable of obtaining a GED certification due to a learning disability. If the offender is deemed incapable of obtaining a GED certification, the offender shall complete at least one of the following:

(i)  A literacy program.

(ii) An adult basic education program.

(iii) A job skills training program.

(f) The offender has obtained a low-risk level designation determined by a validated risk assessment instrument approved by the secretary of the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

(g) The offender has completed a reentry program to be determined by the Department of Public Safety and Corrections.

Therefore, Louisiana juvenile homicide offenders can be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. As a result, Louisiana treats juvenile homicide offenders better than Tennessee.



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