State Sen. Katrina Jackson (D-Monroe) this week amended HB583 to give protections to those who guard juvenile inmates at facilities around the state.
Currently, juvenile offenders who are serving “juvenile life” sentences face no true punishment for acts of violence, since their sentences cannot be extended. Jackson’s amendment will allow for juvenile inmates who violently injure guards or the general public during an escape to be charged as adults for crimes committed while incarcerated.
“I have been a strong advocate for juvenile justice yet I am extremely concerned about the inability to hold those juveniles accountable who injure correctional officers and members of the general public during escapes with no consequences because of the reform we implemented in the past,” Jackson said. “I still believe in the reform, but now understand that we did not take into account those serving juvenile life who commit violent crimes against correctional officers and members of the general public during escapes from facilities. Therefore, in the only bill that related to crimes of violence I offered and passed an amendment to ensure that those who injure guards and members of the public can be charged as an adult if the court chooses.”
Jackson said the issue should be addressed again in future Legislative Sessions.
“I understand that this legislation is not perfect, but temporary while I work with juvenile advocates and correctional facility experts to draft a bill for the next regular session to repeal what I have but in place and file a bill that more narrowly addresses this issue with everyone’s input. However, with the numerous injuries to correctional officers in juvenile facilities and pleas from the judicial system that nothing can be done in these circumstances, I knew something had to be put in place temporarily to deter this behavior.”