Special session bills reflect frustration over crime

The Louisiana Legislature convened this week for a special session called by Gov. Jeff Landry in an effort to implement new tough-on crime policies.
The bills lawmakers approve are likely to drastically reshape the state’s justice system, rolling back many of the efforts by former Gov. John Bel Edwards to reduce the number of people incarcerated in state prisons.
Bills filed this session, which will end by March 6, seek to make a range of changes, from eliminating the possibility of parole for most inmates to creating new methods the state can use to carry out death penalty executions.
On Tuesday, Republicans leaders in the House and Senate passed a slew of bills through legislative committees, ushering them forward for full votes on the chamber floors and propelling them closer to final approval.
Here are the major bills to watch as the rest of the session plays out.
House bills
• HB 1: This bill would create the “Truth and Transparency” program and allow for the release of some criminal records of juveniles. It requires court districts to create publicly available electronic databases of minute entries from all court hearings, including those for juveniles. A similar measure targeted at Caddo, Orleans and East Baton Rouge parishes failed during the 2023 regular legislative session.
• HB 2: The bill would give police officers, sheriff’s deputies and other peace officers increased immunity from civil liability for actions taken while on the job.
• HB 4: The legislation would roll back a 2021 law that expanded post-conviction plea deals, allowing prosecutors more leeway to trim prison sentences deemed unjust or overly punitive. The legislation would eliminate most opportunities for such deals.
• HB 5: This bill would up the consequences of being charged with illegal use of a weapon, classifying such use as a crime of violence. Crimes of violence cannot be removed from a person’s record.
• HB 6: Louisiana would include nitrogen gas and electrocution in the methods it uses to carry out death sentences. It would also make almost all aspects of the administration of the death penalty a secret, including the names of people or businesses involved in supplying the method of execution or carrying it out. Currently, the only legal execution method is lethal injection.
• HB 7: This bill would raise carjacking sentences from a minimum of two years to a minimum of five years. Sentences for carjackings that result in bodily injuries would be changed to a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 30.
• HB 9: This legislation would eliminate parole for those convicted of a crime after August 1, except for certain people who were convicted as juveniles.
• HB 10: This bill would require those convicted of a crime to serve 85% of their prison sentence before they are eligible to have their time reduced for good behavior.
• HB 11: Under this bill, the state would change some of the rules and consequences for those who violate their parole requirements.
• HB 12: If passed, this legislation would allow Louisianans who are 18 or older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training. Twenty-seven states already allow permitless carry.
Senate bills
• SB 1: Similar to HB 12, this Senate legislation would also allow Louisianans who are 18 or older to carry a concealed weapon without a permit or training if passed.
• SB 5: This bill would toughen the requirements those convicted of a crime must meet to be eligible for parole and change parts of how parole proceedings work.
• SB 6: Like HB 2, this bill would limit the civil liability a peace officer or public entity would face for action taken while working.
• SB 8: This legislation would create the office of the state public defender, moving the regulation of legal services for those who cannot afford a lawyer away from the Louisiana Public Defender Board and under the governor’s office.
• SB 11: This bill would repeal Louisiana’s “Raise the Age” law, which took effect in 2019, and place 17-year-olds who commit crimes in the adult criminal justice system instead of the juvenile system.

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