NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -“One thousand four hundred and twelve felonies, and you can see the average bail is appropriate when you look at the averages,” says Rafael Goyeneche.
Goyeneche, head of the Metropolitan Crime Commission, says when he started to drill down and look at some of the individual bonds being set at Criminal District Court, he saw a different picture.
“I saw that the bonds do not reflect the serious nature of the offenses. I’m looking at probably 20 cases where people were charged or arrested with felony crime of violence and their bonds were set between $150 and $500,” says Goyeneche.
His office found in a three-week period that 91 people with felony arrests were given bonds set below $1,000.
“You’re seeing offenses like home invasion, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, burglary of an inhabitated dwelling and domestic abuse battery by strangulation,” says Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says in some of the cases, the low bonds are facilitating the release of offenders with a criminal history.
“These are the offenders whose bails should be raised to a certain level to reflect the seriousness for which they’ve been arrested, and when that doesn’t happen and those offenders are turned back onto the street, that’s the revolving door syndrome,” says Goyeneche.
He points to the criminal code, which shows what a judge must consider when setting a bond.
“One of the specific factors the law states is the offender’s criminal history. That’s how a judge can predict the future by looking at the past,” says Goyeneche.
Goyeneche worries the low bonds will have a direct effect on the public’s confidence in the system.
“We only looked at three weeks worth of data. We need to do a deeper dive, because if this continues it’s going to be a setback for public safety in general and the public perception of the criminal Justice system because this is a dangerous trend,” says Goyeneche.
We reached out to the court for a comment about the low bonds, but we have not heard back.