LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) — 15th Judicial District Attorney Don Landry announced today that in light of a rise in juvenile crime, suspects between the age of 15 and 17 will now be tried as adults when prosecuted for violent crimes.

In a press briefing today, Jan. 27, Landry said juvenile violent crimes will not be tolerated.

“Juveniles and guns do not go together,” said Landry. “If you carry or use guns, you’re telling us you want to be treated as adults, and we will do just that.”

Landry said the Louisiana Children’s Code allows for the local district attorney to decide whether or not juveniles committing violent crimes should be tried as an adult, so long as they are age 15 or older. Landry said those cases, including murders, attempted murders, rapes, assaults, burglaries and other crimes, will be brought before the grand jury. If the juvenile is indicted, Landry said his office will “aggressively” prosecute them as adults and seek full adult sentences.

Landry said he is agreeing to this initiative as a deterrent to crime. He said his hopes are that harsher prosecutions will curb juvenile crime, which he said is often a socio-economic issue where the kids don’t see any other way out of poverty than a life of crime. The DA said the initiative also includes plans to work with educators, school administrators, clergy members and community organizations to not only explain to juveniles what the harsher penalties could mean, but also to help deter crime among youth.

Landry said the initiative came to him while talking to victims’ families, who often find that juveniles get reduced sentences, even for heinous crimes. By trying juveniles as adults, Landry said violent criminals will not get to game the juvenile system for lesser punishments.

The initiative could possibly mean that violent juveniles could be held in adult jails and correctional facilities.

Landry said that while his office does not have the jurisdiction to try 14-year-olds as adults automatically, judges would have the discretion to allow that to happen.

The district attorney said juvenile violent crime is not just a problem in the 15th Judicial District, which comprises Lafayette, Acadia, and Vermilion parishes. The problem, he insisted, is statewide. Shortly before his press briefing, Landry pointed out that KLFY reported the arrest of a juvenile for a Breaux Bridge murder.

Landry shared the following juvenile violent crime statistics in the 15th district since July 1, 2020

  • Attempted first- and second-degree murders:
    • Lafayette Parish — 26
    • Acadia Parish — 19
    • Vermilion Parish — 3
  • Rapes:
    • Lafayette Parish — 22
    • Acadia Parish — 5
    • Vermilion Parish — 2
  • Aggravated assault with a firearm:
    • Lafayette Parish — 13
    • Acadia Parish — 17
    • Vermilion Parish — 1
  • Aggravated batteries:
    • Lafayette Parish — 11
    • Acadia Parish — 17
    • Vermilion Parish — 1
  • Simple burglaries:
    • Lafayette Parish — 149
    • Acadia Parish — 84
    • Vermilion Parish — 26
  • Armed robberies:
    • Lafayette Parish — 9
    • Acadia Parish — 0
    • Vermilion Parish — 0