The “casual, probably drug related” murders are rising in New Orleans, says the New York Times. There were 161 homicides there last year, and there have been 18 so far this year, making New Orleans by most measures the nation's per capita murder capital, given its reduced population. Many of the victims and the suspects are teenagers. About two-thirds of the deaths have gone unsolved: the killers, in many cases, continue to walk the streets and are likely to kill again, the police say.
The Times says that the killing cycle here often involves the murderers' brutalized childhoods, ineffectual police intervention, a dulled community response, and a tense relationship between the police and prosecutors that lets many cases slip through the cracks. In some neighborhoods, people cite “misdemeanor murders,” or “60-day murders,” the length of time suspects can be held without charges. Police Superintendent Warren Riley often blames prosecutors for refusing other cases and the courts for letting violent suspects out on bail. He told Gambit Weekly, a local newspaper, that he was tired of having to re-arrest the same people who had been let out of jail.