New Orleans police have cleared 68 of last year’s 162 murders, including four in which suspects remain at large and 17 in which police believe the suspects were also killed, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Of the 47 cases referred to District Attorney Eddie Jordan, prosecutors have charged defendants in 17 cases. Two cases have been brought to trial, both domestic violence killings, one ending with a hung jury and the other a manslaughter conviction.
If history is a guide, prosecutors will have a hard time getting many more convictions. Police may be as likely to clear a case “by exception” — when the suspect is himself killed or otherwise dies — as by pushing the case all the way to a jury, a trend viewed as a symptom of a dysfunctional system. “When the criminal justice system doesn’t bring them to justice, that is when street justice kicks in,” said Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission. “That is the price we have been paying for a couple of decades here.” Though the city’s criminal justice system took a beating from Hurricane Katrina, its failure to mete out justice is nothing new. Only 12 to 13 percent of homicide and attempted murder cases resulted in jail time in recent years.