City Council members in New Orleans unanimously approved a resolution Thursday calling for an end to the jailing of sexual assault or domestic violence victims who resist testifying against their suspected assailants, the Associated Press reports. The vote put the council directly at odds with District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, who had opposed the resolution.
Nobody spoke against the resolution at Thursday’s council meeting but Cannizzaro’s office issued a statement the night before saying the use of “material witness” warrants for the arrest of uncooperative victims is rare, but sometimes needed to get critical testimony against dangerous offenders. Proponents of the resolution, including the local court system watchdog group Court Watch NOLA and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana, rejected Cannizzaro’s argument. They said threatening victims with jail is counterproductive, leading to distrust of police and the criminal justice system by crime victims.