Time to raise the age
A new LSU study calls for 17- years-old children accused of crimes to be adjudicated in the juvenile justice system instead of adult courts. Louisiana law currently requires 17-year-olds to be tried as adults, which means youthful offenders face permanent criminal records even for non-violent offenses. Those consequences later translate into trouble finding work, often leading to increased recidivism. The report by LSU’s Institute for Public Health and Justice was requested by the Legislature, and cited the incomplete neurological development of 17-year-olds as reason to treat them differently than full-fledged adults:
An emerging body of research over the last decade has drastically expanded our understanding of adolescent brain development. Specifically, it is clear that the brains of 17-year-olds are still developing, causing 17-year-olds to engage in more risky and impulsive behavior, and this behavior is exacerbated when in the presence of peers. This explains, but does not excuse, why even a straight-A student, active in their community and school, can be prone to a reckless night of riding around in a car with a friend who has been drinking. […] In the simplest of terms, the brain of a 17-year-old is not fully wired and is still entrenched in the progression of remodeling itself and maturing toward adulthood.
Julie O’Donoghue of Nola.com/The Times Picayune’s Julia O’Donoghue reports that raising the age might also be the fiscally responsible thing to do:
[Report Director Stephen] Phillippi said the few states who recently added 17-years-olds back into their juvenile justice system have had good results. The courts and detention centers have been able to absorb the extra teenagers with few problems, and they would expect the same in Louisiana. In some cases, states have actually saved money by making the change.
“It’s not pretty”
Gov. John Bel Edwards’ executive budget will call for massive, across-the-board cuts to state services when it’s released to the public on Feb. 13, Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne told the Baton Rouge Press Club on Monday. The state constitution requires the governor to present a balanced budget, and Edwards’ spending blueprint will not assume that the Legislature will go along with his ideas for raising taxes to plug a $1.9 billion gap between revenues and expenses. The Advocate’s Capitol News Bureau has the details:
“It requires unprecedented, dramatic, profound changes in the delivery of service at every level of government,” Dardenne said. “It’s not pretty. Legislators are not going to like it and the public isn’t going to like it.” But Edwards will release a straightforward budget proposal that is not based on fabricated revenue and budgeting gimmicks that make the problems seem less dire, he said. “The solutions require honesty; and require a candid discussion with the people of Louisiana about the reality about where we are in this state,” Dardenne said. […]Senate President John Alario and House Speaker Taylor Barras, both Republicans, have both said they expected taxes to be part of any overall solution. But individual GOP members and activist groups affiliated with the party have come out against any of the proposed revenue-raising measures.
After Monday night’s presidential caucus in Iowa, The Advocate’s Stephanie Grace looks back at former Gov. Bobby Jindal’s failed presidential campaign and its role in the budget crisis that his successor is facing.
As the rest of the country focuses on the future, Louisiana residents and politicians are stuck dealing with the aftermath of Jindal’s irresponsible fiscal stewardship, which history will surely link to his effort to create a campaign-friendly record rather than leave Louisiana in good order. Setting himself up to preach the small government gospel out in Iowa and elsewhere, Jindal signed an unaffordable income tax cut, reduced direct aid to higher education by more than half, refused to accept a great deal from the federal government to expand health insurance for the working poor, drained once-flush reserve funds and sold off state property to pay basic expenses, and fought off efforts to rein in business giveaways even as he belatedly decried the evils of corporate welfare. […]The result, as everyone who’s paying attention knows, is a budget shortfall that approaches $3 billion for this year and next, some of which is due to the dropping price of oil but much of the rest of which can be traced to actions Jindal and a cooperative Legislature took.
A new poll from the Allstate/National Journal Heartland Monitor connects declining economic opportunities in the United States with the growing fear that Americans have of immigration and diversity. The National Journal’s Ronald Brownstein details how responses to questions about the ability of all Americans to succeed in life show waning confidence in equality of opportunity and dovetail dangerously with anxieties of demographic changes and increased immigration:
The twin concerns about the impact of growing diversity and the waning opportunity for children from all income groups offer more evidence that rapid demographic change and a sustained economic stagnation have converged, producing a deeply volatile compound of anxiety. […] The new results found a significant decline since 2009 in the now-bare majority of respondents who believe that all Americans have sufficient chances to succeed in life. In the July 2009 poll, 65 percent of those surveyed agreed that “children from all races growing up today have adequate opportunities to be successful.” That skidded to just 51 percent in the new survey. The sense, broadly shared, that the opportunity for success is constricting provides an important backdrop to the divided and conflicted responses about the impact of immigration and the acceleration in demographic diversity.
Number of the day:
6,000 – Number of 17-year-olds tried and held as adults in Louisiana in 2014. (Source: Nola.com/The Times-Picayune)