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2.29.24 – KPEL 96.5 – Baton Rouge, LA

The Louisiana Legislature special session ended early. A dozen tough-on-crime laws tare headed to Governor Jeff Landry’s desk.

The Louisiana Legislature adjourned the special crime session Thursday, with six days to spare. More than a dozen bills were approved and head to Governor Jeff Landry’s desk. 

At the beginning of the session, Speaker of the House Phillip DeVillier of Eunice said they would consider laws that focused on the victim rather than the criminal, a sentiment also expressed by Governor Landry who is pleased with the outcome of the session. He calls it a “giant step forward” in addressing the crime issues in Louisiana.


The measure would allow people 18 and older who have not been convicted of a felony to carry a concealed handgun without a permit. New Orleans officials are concerned about people carrying guns while in large crowds, but supporters say the bill aligns with Constitutional rights and allows law-abiding citizens to defend themselves. Governor Landry is expected to sign the bill into law that would go into effect on July 4th.

concealed gun weapon


Louisiana has not executed anyone since 2010, due to the shortage or unavailability of the drugs administered for lethal injection. The legislation expands the methods of execution to include electrocution (the electric chair) and nitrogen hypoxia. The bill also gives companies that provide drugs for lethal injection anonymity by sealing the records.

Handout, Getty Images
Handout, Getty Images


Currently, first-offense DWI offenders must have an ignition interlock device in their vehicles for three months that won’t allow the car to start if they are at or over the legal limit. The new legislation lengthens that term to six months.



The bill that originated in the Louisiana Senate calls for 17-year-olds to be tried as adults in the criminal justice system. The age had been raised to 18 in 2019.



The goal of the bill was to have people convicted of a crime serve more of their sentences. Under House Bill 9, people convicted of crimes after August 1, 2024, would not be eligible for parole. Its companion bill, House Bill 10, reduces the amount of time a prisoner can earn for good behavior to 15%. It also revokes pretrial time served so it doesn’t apply to the sentence. House Bill 11 deals with parole qualification, if someone qualifies, and imposes stiffer penalties on anyone who violates parole.

prison criminal


People who commit the crime of carjacking will face double the time in prison under House Bill 7. Drug dealers who package fentanyl in such a way that it appeals to children will serve 25 to 99 years in prison. Currently, a person caught distributing a small amount of fentanyl would spend a minimum of five years behind bars.


Drug court provisions would also expand under one bill headed to Governor Landry’s desk.

Several of the measures passed with votes along party lines, bolstered by Republicans. Democrats vow to fight for other reforms.

In response to the session, House Democratic Caucus Chair Representative Matthew Willard says:

House Democrats are committed to addressing the root causes of crime to make our communities safer and inject real transparency into our criminal justice system.

“The ‘lock them up and throw away the key’ approach does not work. We know this because  Louisiana ranks near the top in both crime and incarceration rates. That’s why House Democrats proposed legislation and amendments that invest in rehabilitation and reentry programs, as well as funding for the Summer EBT program, which nets $67 million in federal funds to feed nearly 600,000 kids in Louisiana.

Sadly, the legislation brought by the Governor does not improve public safety. These new laws do nothing to prevent crime before it happens. In fact, the bills passed will explode Louisiana’s prison population, increase recidivism, and place an enormous burden on Louisiana taxpayers for generations to come, as the Legislative Fiscal Office made clear.

Under the guise of ‘public safety,’ the Governor pushed the Legislature to enact laws that limit or altogether eliminate probation and parole. Data shows that probation and parole are among our state’s most successful reentry programs, with standard prison releases resulting in twice the rate of re-incarceration as parolees. Republicans also severely restricted good-time credits, an action that data shows will have no bearing on crime rates. These efforts fail to address the circumstances that arise before the crime has been committed, and will ultimately result in longer prison sentences and higher costs for taxpayers. 

The Governor’s solution to gun violence throughout our state is to authorize permitless carry. This new law not only fails to address the root causes of crime, but it may have devastating consequences for public safety. Supporters of this legislation argued that to simultaneously address crime and law enforcement shortages, Louisiana needs more 18-year-old people carrying concealed firearms in public with no training or permit. This is an irresponsible position that is driven more by partisan politics than public safety data.

House Democrats will continue to fight for evidence-based criminal justice reforms that reduce crime and make our communities safer.

Speaker of the House Phillip DeVillier of Eunice applauded the session:

 “The House accomplished the mission of addressing crime in our state so Louisiana can be a safe and peaceful place to live, raise our families, and enjoy all the things that make it great.

We heard a lot of debate and at the end of the day we voted on behalf of the people we represent. I’m pleased with the final outcome and our overall focus on the victims, not the criminals. Looking ahead, the House members and I look forward to addressing insurance costs and focusing on solutions to education issues.

Senate President Cameron Henry expressed his satisfaction over the work of his colleagues:

Senators worked together to not only debate the measures brought to us during this crime session, but also discuss the potential impacts to the state’s budget.

Supporting law enforcement and providing justice to the victims of crime were promises many of us made to our constituents. With this special session complete, we’ll be working hard to get ready for the regular session and handling issues that can jumpstart our economy and improve lives.

Louisiana lawmakers head back to Baton Rouge for the regular session which begins on March 11 and must adjourn no later than June 3. To date, more than 500 bills have been filed for consideration