LAFAYETTE, La. (KLFY) – Juveniles who are between 15 and 17 years old can now be prosecuted as adults.

This comes after 15th Judicial District Attorney Don Landry announced a new initiative Thursday. Landry says a rise in juvenile crime led to his decision. Juveniles 15-years-old and older will now be tried as adults when prosecuted for violent crimes: crimes like murders, attempted murders, rapes, assaults, and burglaries. Landry says his office will be aggressively prosecuting these juveniles as adults, and they will seek full adult sentences.

News Ten spoke with people in Lafayette about their opinions on the new rules.

“I’m unsure about it. My nephew was recently murdered. If they did happen to catch the person who did it, I believe I would want them to be prosecuted,” Willie Campbell said. Campbell says she supports the D.A.’s decision but also thinks about how a 15-year-old would do in adult prison for the rest of their life.

“At the same time, I want them to be young, to have their lives, to survive and make it out in this world, but at the same time, if you’re going around killing people, if you’re ruining other people’s lives, maybe that’s exactly what they deserve is prison time,” she added.

Statistics show that in the 15th Judicial District since July of 2020, 12 juveniles under the age of 17 have been charged with first and second degree murder. For attempted first and second degree murder, the number of juveniles charged jumps to 48. Under the D.A.’s new rules, these juveniles could now be tried as adults and sent to adult jail, at just 15-years-old. “I think that’s fine, honestly. I know when I was at that age, I felt like an adult, wanted to be treated like an adult and was ready to receive any consequences as an adult,” Steve Murch said.

“It depends on the kid. If your kid’s a mama’s boy, maybe keep my eye on him and keep him out of trouble, but if he’s got a job and they’re out there providing for themselves, then I think that’s their choice,” he added.

Others News Ten spoke with disagreed with prosecuting juveniles as adults. “I do not think 15-17 year old’s should be tried as adults. I don’t think their mind is mentally capable of going to the extreme in certain situations and fully developed,” a man named Lorenzo said. “Even myself, thinking back to, I’m almost 30 now, and how I think now compared to when I was 18, total 180,” he added.