Lawmakers pass bill that could help prevent juvenile crime

Published: Jun. 22, 2022 at 10:34 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - Getting to them young is the latest effort to crack down on juvenile crime in Louisiana as lawmakers pass HB460.

“It is a right step in addressing the rise in crime we’re seeing, especially among our youth, and so we want to reverse this trend, and this bill is a good first step in doing that,” Candace Weber with Louisiana Policy Institute for Children said.

HB460 passed this Regular Session. It allows reallocation of juvenile justice funds at the parish level to be used to invest in prevention.

“Instead of building another juvenile detention center, cities now can invest more in their early childhood centers,” Weber said. “Early experiences are critical for children in the brain development.”

Weber explains this bill can help intervene with troubled children at an earlier age. She said early experiences become synonymous with a child’s educational, emotional and cognitive development to help steer them to a brighter path for their future.

“Also, it’s tied to increased earnings over time and being contributing citizens to society, which all are good factors in reducing crime,” Weber said.

However, she said this bill goes beyond just tackling crime trends.

“Only 40 percent of our children arrive to kindergarten on track,” Weber said. “So, that means on day one, over half the children in the state are in need of remedial services. Again, going back to enrolling in a quality early childhood center helps to reverse that trend as well.”

She adds the bill does not impose a new tax to citizens, as the ability of the use of funds - already in place - are just being expanded.

The bill now awaits governor John Bel Edwards’ signature.

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