Although 2006 was a record year for bloodshed in Jefferson Parish, the criminal justice system fared markedly better than did New Orleans, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Jefferson investigators solved 62 percent of their homicides, and prosecutors secured indictments in 79 percent of the cases they received. The rate of solved cases for the sheriff, who handles most Jefferson homicides and touted a 90 percent clearance rate before Hurricane Katrina, fell to 59 percent last year. Still the numbers are respectable, especially considering the crime and staffing challenges after the storm. “When you look at clearance rates nationally, they’re in the range of most urban departments,” said Peter Scharf, a University of New Orleans criminologist. “Those are definitely healthy.”
In New Orleans, where Police Superintendent Warren Riley and District Attorney Eddie Jordan are trying to nurse the city’s ailing criminal justice system, police had solved 42 percent of the city’s homicides from 2006 and prosecutors obtained indictments in 36 percent of the cases they received as of February. Most analysts point to the free-flowing communication between Jefferson investigators and prosecutors as the key to success in solving homicides and charging defendants. It’s a relationship that Jordan and Riley hope to forge with policies announced last week.