Federal officials and local business leaders have joined forces to help update processes in the New Orleans district attorney’s office, where struggles with case management have led to dropped cases and a rash of prisoner releases, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Interim District Attorney Keva Landrum-Johnson said she wasn’t too proud to ask the U.S. Attorney, the National District Attorneys Association and the New Orleans business community to study her office’s outmoded computer and administrative systems and advise her how to fix them.
The ability to track cases more efficiently will help reduce the number of prisoners released because too much time lapsed before prosecutors could pull together a case, what’s called a “701 release.” Thanks to short-term fixes, there were only four 701 releases last month, all in nonviolent cases, said Police Superintendent Warren Riley. Heidi Unter of the New Orleans Police and Justice Foundation said software upgrades will help the office better track bond payments, and automated delivery of subpoenas will help ensure that police officers show up to testify in court. Integrated computer systems will be able to monitor the chain of custody of evidence as it passes from detectives to the crime lab to prosecutors. Riley wants to develop an interstate network of safe houses for witness protection.