BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) – In an attempt to crack down on crime, one state legislator is looking to make simple burglary of an inhabited dwelling a crime of violence.
State Rep. Debbie Villio, R-Kenner, said she wants to make this crime a crime of violence partly because it would remove probation as an option and it would change the good behavior calculations.
“Why should a home burglar benefit from extra good time or early parole eligibility simply because his victim wasn’t home at the time of the crime?” Villio asked.
She told the committee she believes too many people are being released too quickly back onto the streets for this crime.
She shared her own personal stories of her home being broken into, saying that while nobody was home or hurt, she felt it was a violent offense.
“The burglar who broke into my home, that I’ve never returned to, when he armed himself with a butcher knife, and that was found on my bed where he swapped it for my gun,” Villio said. “Had those individuals been captured, they too would have benefited from the 13 days automatic good time for seven served.”
But advocates against this bill said it would put too harsh of penalties for what they believe is a non-violent crime. They point to other laws on the books that deal with if an intruder is armed or if they do physical harm to someone in the home such as home invasion and aggravated burglary.
They also fear it would make stealing a bike from a carport or raiding a shed a crime of violence.
“This is the kind of charge, quite honestly, that I see a lot of young people, people with mental health issues, etc., tend to get wrapped up in,” said Meghan Garvey with the Louisiana Association of Criminal Defense Attorneys.
There is a proposed amendment for this to only apply when someone is inside the home at the time of the crime that will be considered on the House floor.