In the two years since hurricane Katrina soaked the Big Easy, the murder rate has soared, and street justice has prevailed over the notoriously ineffective halls of justice. But there are signs now that the city, famous for its laissez-faire lethargy and laid-back detectives, is gaining some ground against a tide of criminality that residents say threatens to sweep away the promise of recovery, reports the Christian Science Monitor. Hope is returning that “the battle for New Orleans,” as residents call it, is winnable – on the streets and inside the city’s corruption-tinged criminal justice system.
Reforms in the squad room and the courtroom have lifted the rate of solved murders here from 16 percent to 42 percent since January. A new violent-crime unit has won convictions in 19 of 20 cases since April. It may indicate an awakening to the need to check crime at this particular juncture in city history. Yet statistics still looks grim. This year the city’s murder rate is on track to top 100 for every 100,000 residents, more than 11 times the national average.