DISTRICT ATTORNEY HARRINGTON DISCUSSES CRIMINAL JUSTICE RELATED LEGISLATION AS 2021 SESSIONS ENDS

The 2021 Legislative Session adjourned last week in Baton Rouge, with over 1,600 pieces of legislation filed for consideration and debate. Throughout the session, which began in April, district attorneys and criminal justice advocates have worked diligently to review and to support or oppose over 100 criminal justice related bills.

District Attorney Billy Joe Harrington attended the Legislative Session to provide testimony on criminal justice legislation and to advocate for crime victims.

“This was an intense session, with many issues being discussed that impacted the lives of crime victims and their families. We heard emotional and passionate testimony from victims who would have been adversely affected by some the proposed bills. District attorneys and law enforcement leaders from throughout the state joined together protect crime victims in the pursuit of justice,” said Harrington.

One of the most debated bills in the House Committee on the Administration of Criminal Justice this year would weaken victims’ rights and provide new opportunities for convicted murderers to escape justice. The proposed legislation would allow killers who were under the age of 18 when committing the murder and were tried and convicted as an adult to gain parole eligibility after serving 25 years of a life sentence.
Crime victims and families attended the two-day committee meeting, sharing hours of gripping testimony of their first-hand accounts of the murders of their loved ones. Nathan Albritton, of Natchitoches Parish, joined District Attorney Harrington to share his personal testimony about his family. Albritton’s wife and son were murdered in 1993 in Natchitoches Parish.

Harrington said, “the compelling testimony from the victims who courageously shared their personal accounts of these violent crimes made an impact on the members of committee. As a result the bill will not move forward.”

District attorneys also opposed legislation that would have retroactively required retrying prior non-unanimous felony convictions. Since 2018, juries must reach a unanimous verdict in all felony cases. However, regarding previous convictions, the

United States Supreme Court ruled with a supermajority decision in May that the law does not apply retroactively.

“We opposed legislation that would require victims to retry their tragedy all over again, sometimes with cases over 30 years old with witnesses now deceased or unable to testify,” said Harrington.

In other legislation, district attorneys recognized the continuing battle to deter illegal narcotics by supporting SB145, which strengthened pre-trial drug testing requirements and set stronger conditions for those entering a drug court program. The law also provides for funding for drug courts and drug programs from any anticipated monies received from lawsuits against opioid manufacturers.

“We must continue to do everything we can to reduce, deter, and mitigate the flow of illegal narcotics into our community. We have a successful drug court in Natchitoches Parish, which has impacted and helped hundreds of citizens break the cycle of drug addiction. We will continue to educate our young people on the dangers of narcotics misuse and how it negatively affects their entire lives,” said Harrington.

District attorneys successfully opposed legislation that would have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in Louisiana. The Legislature did enact medical marijuana legislation, HB 391, to allow for patients who are clinically diagnosed as suffering from a debilitating medical condition to be prescribed marijuana by medical doctor.

“We strongly feel that the recreational use of marijuana, or any other controlled substance as defined in the law, should remain prohibited. The negative effects of drug misuse reaches all corners of our community and is not productive in any way.

“We will continue to work with our local legislative delegation to ensure that the voices of crime victims and allies are heard and our concerns are addressed,” said Harrington.


3 thoughts on “DISTRICT ATTORNEY HARRINGTON DISCUSSES CRIMINAL JUSTICE RELATED LEGISLATION AS 2021 SESSIONS ENDS

  1. Our criminal justice system is constantly fighting to protect us from the criminal elements in our society and we have to support their efforts…..I stand with them. Who will speak up ?

    • I stand with the police. I have spoken up before about the evils and lawlessness of what is still happening in Portland , OR and other major cities. Our police have been victimized with multiple assaults during these riots. Criminals are being led to believe that their actions are just because they have been treated unfairly. The outcome- poor prosecution of murderers, thieves, and arsonists, putting them right back on the streets. All because politicians believe this lawlessness is OK. Justiifed if you will.

      So speak up? Who hears? Many who will defend this, that is who hears . And they do everything they can to tear down what you say.

      This comes from the left radicals who are destroying everyone’s security. Drive by shootings killing babies and small children to many other sad murders.

      People still believe the right caused the capital riot. The right wing was there but so were members of the left. The press lied repeatedly about the riots in major cities as being peaceful. The press, democrats- why do they not acknowledge that these Antifa, BLM and Insurrectionists USA were present in the fray? I cannot overcome the power of the media. I am but one small voice.

      Then drugs coming across our border freely. These drugs come from China, through the South American cartels, across the border to Houston. Then on to Louisiana. This is sparking a lot of crime as well as deaths due to overdoses. China supplies us with Marijuania and cocaine laced with carfentanyl (fentanyl used by vets to subdue elephants). The town talk did a very good story about this a while back.

      Thank you old vet for your stand.

  2. Every time I have been pulled over for some BS law that even the cops know is BS they always give me the same line “I don’t make the laws I just enforce them”. Well the DA’s and the Sheriff’s Association darn sure made sure that the recreational law didn’t pass. Easy to arrest, easy to convict, easy to incarcerate and the majority of arrests are on black men. Low hanging fruit for LEOs and DA’s. They should be ashamed of themselves for fighting against this. It could have been a huge moneymaker for our state.

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