Youth to gather for first Youth Justice Day, April 6

Why are 17-year-old children
prosecuted as adults in Louisiana
and stigmatized with life-long criminal records?

BATON ROUGE — Louisiana is one of only nine states that routinely prosecute 17-year-olds as adults — a fiscally irresponsible and inhumane practice that affects about 6,000 LA youth each year, endangering public safety by increasing recidivism <> .

A broad swath of supporters, including Governor John Bel Edwards and state Supreme Court Chief Justice Bernette J. Johnson, are calling on Louisiana to get in stride with the 41 states that include 17-year-olds in the juvenile justice system. Sponsored by Sen. JP Morrell, D-New Orleans, the RAISE THE AGE LOUISIANA ACT of 2016 (SB 324 <> ) is included in the Edwards Administration’s legislative package.

Join us on the Capitol steps on April 6 for the stirring kick-off of Louisiana’s first annual Youth Justice Day in support of RAISE THE AGE LOUISIANA.

Youth Justice Day is sponsored by the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, a network of over 60 advocacy groups that support common-sense juvenile justice reform.

This is a local story on an issue of national concern. Read about Louisiana and the seven other states <>  with RAISE THE AGE campaigns and pending legislation.

April 6 at 10:30 am:

· Release of a powerful report authored by the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition arguing that the inclusion of 17-year-olds in our juvenile justice system is safe, smart, cost-effective, and fair.  (Contact us for an advance copy.)

· Speakers include Rob Reardon, Lafayette Parish Director of Corrections; Dr. James Gilmore, Director of the Governor’s Children’s Cabinet; Baton Rouge Juvenile Court Judge Pamela Taylor Johnson; and Jasmine Jeff, a senior at New Orleans’ Sci Academy whose research for a term paper sparked a passion for RAISE THE AGE.

· The New Orleans youth dance group, Dancing Grounds, will live-illustrate news conference messages with giant props and assistance from the audience.  This is a strongly visual media op that reporters and camera crews won’t want to miss.

At 11:30 am:

· Join us at the Capitol Park Welcome Center <>  for a technical panel on the report and RAISE THE AGE legislation. Three related juvenile justice bills will be discussed as well.

At 12:30 pm:

· Follow along with Jasmine Jeff and her peers as they enter the Capitol and lobby legislators in support of RAISE THE AGE — a first-time act of civic engagement for many of these young people.

At 1:00 pm:

· The legislative session opens with Rep. Joseph Bouie, D-New Orleans, reading a proclamation in support of Youth Justice Day <>  and the hundreds of students — 350 confirmed to date — in attendance.

For more on RAISE THE AGE, the three related bills, and the Louisiana Youth Justice Coalition, visit <> .