11 Hurricane Katrina evacuees are suspected of transferring their Louisiana turf battles to Houston and carrying out homicides, robberies, and kidnappings in Texas, says the Houston Chronicle. “Houston is feeling some of the pain from the failure of the New Orleans criminal justice system, ” said Rafael Goyeneche of the watchdog Metropolitan Crime Commission of New Orleans. The crime commission reported less than a week before the hurricane that only 7 percent of those arrested were ever convicted and that 60 percent of all convictions were for misdemeanors. It also said violent offenses such as murder, rape, battery, or assault made up only 5 percent of all convictions during 2003-04.
Goyeneche said that violent criminals allowed back on the street were frequently able to intimidate victims and witnesses before trial, resulting in prosecutors dismissing cases they found nearly impossible to prove. As Houston suffers, the New Orleans justice system has a chance to start over. “It’s a huge opportunity,” Goyeneche said. “I think both the police chief and the DA realize their future depends on what they can accomplish in a few months.”