Violence has been a particularly difficult problem in New Orleans, and the criminal justice system since Hurricane Katrina has struggled to get its act together. Finally, police and prosecutors seem to be making progress, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune in an editorial. An analysis by the Metropolitan Crime Commission found that police made more arrests in violent crimes in the first six months of the year than during the same period in previous years. Prosecutors accepted more cases involving violence and almost doubled convictions for violent felonies.
The statistics are encouraging. Convictions rose from 112 in the last six months of 2008 to 218 in the first six months of this year. If you go back to the first half of 2007, only 86 cases involving violence ended in conviction. “We are starting to see the district attorney’s office — in conjunction with the Police Department — prioritize the most serious offenses,” Crime Commission president Rafael Goyeneche said. The commission points out that police still are spending inordinate resources on municipal charges and traffic offenders. The legislature needs to craft a law to allow officers to issue a new citation when they stop someone who has a simple traffic attachment, says the newspaper.