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What to know about Louisianas new tough-on-crime laws

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(BATON ROUGE, La.) — Louisiana on Tuesday became one of the toughest states in the nation on crime when Gov. Jeff Landry signed a series of bills that will keep criminals in prison longer, enables citizens to carry guns without a permit, and resurrects the electric chair and adds nitrogen gas to lethal injection as methods used to execute death row inmates.

During Tuesday’s signing ceremony at the state capital building in Baton Rouge, Landry – who was Louisiana attorney general before he was elected governor in 2023 – said he was fulfilling a campaign promise to victims of violent crime.

“One of the first promises we made [was] that we were going to deal with crime and we did it in a way we listened to you all,” Landry said.

With multiple strokes of his pen, Landry aimed to change a state justice system that he said has put the rights of violent crime perpetrators over those of victims.

“We all know the statistics of how poorly Louisiana ranks in safety and we all complain about the outward migration that has been going on in the state consistently decade after decade. It’s just logical that people will not come to a place where it’s not safe,” said Landry, a conservative Republican, adding that crime costs the citizens of Louisiana’s three largest cities – New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Shreveport – $6 billion a year.

“Today, we bring some justice to the victims,” Landry declared.

The bills were sent to Landry’s desk for signing after they were passed last month by the Republican-controlled state Legislature.

Clearing the path to resume executions

Among the laws Landry signed is one that clears the way to end a 14-year pause on executions in the state.

Under the new law, nitrogen hypoxia will be added to the available execution methods, along with the reintroduction of the electric chair, which death row inmates dubbed “Gruesome Gertie.” Executions by electrocution was retired in Louisiana in 1991 when the state moved to lethal injections.

“We do it in order to hopefully deter people, to let them know that in a peaceful civilization, these are not the types conduct and acts that will be tolerated here in the state of Louisiana,” said Landry as he signed the legislation while surrounded by the families of murder victims.

No permit needed to carry concealed firearm

Landry also signed into law legislation that will allow people to carry concealed weapons without a permit or training. The law also makes Louisiana the first state to grant concealed carry license holders a degree of qualified immunity from lawsuits if they use their weapons in self-defense, a provision currently reserved primarily for law enforcement officers.

The law will also lower the age for a person to carry a concealed firearm from 21 to 18.

The governor signed the weapons bill despite critics, including New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell, saying it would make it harder for police to prevent shootings and homicides.

“I’m very much concerned and I do not at all believe that this makes our city and our people safer,” Cantrell said at a news conference on Friday.

New Orleans Police Superintendent Anne Kirkpatrick added, “You will see more people who are armed that we cannot check to see whether or not they are law-abiding or not.”

But Landry said Tuesday that Louisiana joins 27 other states that have enacted the same type of legislation, and argued it will not make law enforcement more difficult.

“It’s ensuring that law-abiding citizens are not harassed or have to ask government permission to do that which the Second Amendment allows them to do,” Landry said.

He further asserted that the law “incentivizes” citizens who want to maintain a concealed carry permit by affording them some immunity if they are forced to defend themselves.

Parole eliminated, good behavior sentence reduction curbed

Landry also signed into law two bills that he said will ensure convicted criminals serve the majority of the sentences they are given, and that will eliminate the option of parole for convicted perpetrators.

One of the pieces of legislation Landry signed, the Truth in Sentencing Bill, would require an inmate to serve 85% of their sentence before they can receive a sentence reduction for good behavior, and reduces the amount of time by which a sentence can be reduced. The other bill eliminates parole altogether for anyone convicted of a crime after Aug 1, 2024.

Landry said the new laws will “place discretion and responsibility back where it belongs, on the judges.”

The governor is expected to sign more bills later this week. Among them is one that will lower the age at which a minor can be tried as an adult to 17 for all felony crimes. The law will also make juveniles convicted of first-degree and second-degree murder, first-degree rape, and aggravated kidnapping ineligible to have their sentences modified.

Under the same law, juveniles convicted of lesser felony offenses will have to serve at least half of their sentence before sentencing changes can be considered. Additionally, the legislation will for the first time allow some juvenile records to be made public.

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