Louisiana’s Crime-Focused Special Legislative Session Begins

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Under a new era of conservative leadership, Louisiana’s GOP-dominated Legislature will gather Monday for a special legislative session that could reshape the state’s criminal justice system and the public safety sector.

Among the more than two dozen bills filed ahead of session is legislation that proposes expanding methods to carry out death row executions, restricting parole eligibility, harsher penalties for carjackings, “immunity from liability” for law enforcement based upon a certain criteria and publicizing some juvenile court records.

Some lawmakers say the tough on crime policy proposals prioritizes victims and will keep criminals behind bars and off Louisiana streets. Others worry the slew of legislation won’t address the immediate issue of violent crimes plaguing the state, but instead would undo bipartisan and historic reforms that were passed under Landry’s Democratic predecessor.

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Here are some of the bills and topics that will be debated during the scheduled two-and-half week session.

DEATH PENALTY METHOD EXPANSION

Like other reliably red states that have seen executions stall, Louisiana lawmakers are looking to expand methods to carry out the death penalty. The Deep South state is exploring adding the newest execution technique of oxygen deprivation using nitrogen gas, which was used in Alabama last month, and bringing back electrocution.

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Currently, 58 people sit on Louisiana’s death row but an execution has not occurred since 2010. Under the bill, filed by Republican state Rep. Nicholas Muscarello, lethal injection would remain the preferred method in Louisiana.

PAROLE RESTRICTIONS

There are several bills that would add various parole conditions and restrictions, reducing the chance of parole eligibility and time offenders can have taken off their sentences for good behavior.

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REPEAL “RAISE THE AGE” LAW

On Landry’s agenda this session, he wants lawmakers to roll back the state’s “Raise the Age” law that was passed by lawmakers in 2016. The law, which was a key criminal justice reform in the state, stopped automatically routing 17-year-olds through the adult criminal justice system when arrested for non-violent crimes, instead steering them to the juvenile prosecution system.

TOUGHER PENALTIES

Lawmakers have filed bills proposing harsher sentences and penalties for certain crimes — including carjacking and weapons offenses.

One bill would make the distribution of fentanyl to minors a crime that is punishable by 25 to 99 years in jail without parole.

LEGAL PROTECTIONS FOR POLICE

At least two bills have been filed, that seek to further legally protect officers — giving them and law enforcement some immunity from liability “based upon certain criteria”

One bill proposes that “liability shall not be imposed on any peace officer… based upon the conduct or actions of a peace officer in performance of any discretionary function within the course and scope of his duties.” A second bill, “Prohibits civil claims against peace officers and certain public entities based upon the conduct or actions of a peace officer in performance of any discretionary function within the course and scope of his law enforcement duties.”

CONCEALED CARRY

Lawmakers once again will try to advance a bill that would allow people in Louisiana who are 18 or older to carry concealed guns without a permit.

The closest Louisiana has been to enacting a permitless concealed carry law was in 2021, when the bill passed the House and Senate. However Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards vetoed the measure.

For a full list of bills that have been filed, visit the Louisiana State Legislature website.

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