Fewer than half of criminal suspects referred to the New Orleans district attorney’s office are ever convicted, says a report that cites high attorney turnover and a lack of overall strategy as acute problems plaguing the office, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says. The report from the consulting firm John Linder and Associates and financed by the New Orleans Police Foundation, studied District Attorney Eddie Jordan’s office since he began in January 2003.
The report calls for assignment of a police detective squad to the district attorney’s office and a team effort by law enforcement to put more violent criminals in prison. Two-thirds of the 136,000 arrests New Orleans police made last year involved drug crimes, yet only 8 percent of them resulted in someone doing time in jail. “We can no longer consider ourselves able to arrest our way out of this problem,” Mayor Ray Nagin said. “It’s time to stop the revolving door where the bad guys hire some of the best attorneys in this city and they’re back on the streets within 24 hours.” Jordan said the report proves his office suffers from lack of money. He said he welcomed the review, which is part of the “DA COMSTAT” plan to track every case that enters his office, just as the police electronically track crime with statistics and maps. The turnover rate among prosecutors remains a problem; recently, three assistants quit in one day, and last year, 29 of the 90 assistant district attorneys quit.