Pre-trial services report on Mother's Day shooting suspect - FOX 8 WVUE New Orleans News, Weather, Sports

Pre-trial services report on Mother's Day shooting suspect

Updated:
Akein Scott, after his capture Wednesday night Akein Scott, after his capture Wednesday night

New Orleans, La. - When Akein Scott was first named as a suspect in the Mother's Day mass shooting, some began to question whether he should have been on the streets to begin with.

Scott had previously be arrested on March 5 at Frenchman and Derbigny, just three blocks from the Mother's Day shooting scene. He was booked with resisting an officer, illegal possession of a stolen firearm, illegal carrying of a weapon while in possession of a controlled dangerous substance, and possession of heroin.

A magistrate judge set his bond at $15,000, in spite of Mayor Mitch Landrieu's request to set a minimum bond of $30,000 for those arrested for guns and drugs.

FOX 8 obtained a copy of a pre-trial services report on Akein Scott. That report is a tool for judges as they consider setting the bond for suspects and it gave Akein Scott a low risk rating.

The pre-trial services program is run by the Vera Institute.

"It's a program that provides an objective risk assessment to the judge, for the judge to use as a basis to decide whether to release a person pre-trial or if any conditions need to be put on that person, or whether to keep them in jail," says Councilwoman Susan Guidry.

The pre-trial services program has been up and running for about a year, and Guidry says it has proven to be a very valuable tool.  "One of the things the Vera Institute does is that it tells us about best practices across the country. One of those practices is the pre-trial services program," says Guidry.

"If the mayor believes in a higher bond for a serious offense, I think he needs to look at the money invested in this program," says Rafael Goyeneche of the Metropolitan Crime Commission.

Goyeneche says whatever criteria the Vera Institute is using, the court isn't following it. "There is nothing that Vera can tell the court that's going to influence the court's decision with information that was already available to the court," says Goyeneche.

"At the end of the day, what Vera does, or what they don't do, doesn't necessarily determine the judge's decision to set a bond. I'm telling folks that if someone is arrested for a gun violation, especially a serious one and drug possession, that person is going to be a high risk," says Mayor Landrieu.

While Landrieu says every component of the criminal justice system must work together, others wonder whether the Vera Institute is worth the public expense.

"We're spending a half a million dollars on Vera. Are they really making a difference? And aren't there other, more badly-needed resources that could be applied through more productive programs in the criminal justice system?" says Goyeneche.

FOX 8 reached out to the Vera Institute for comment but our calls were not returned.

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