Court Watch NOLA shares stats on criminal justice system

'Court Watch NOLA' stats on criminal justice system

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - After collecting and analyzing a year's worth of data, Court Watch NOLA released findings showing more than 1,600 juveniles were arrested last year for various crimes.

"We need to educate the people of New Orleans about what's happening in our criminal justice system," said Executive Director Simone Levine.

Some victims of those crimes say it's shocking.

"The idea that this child had a gun and they were trying to carjack people coming in from work. He was young and that bothered me the most to see that," Arlinda Weathersby said.

The breakdown of the ages of the arrested juveniles show one percent were 10 years old. two percent were 11 years old and three percent were 12 years old. The majority of those arrested were 16.

In all of last year, 35,818 adults were arrested. Seventy-eight percent of those people were male.

Court Watch NOLA also broke down the numbers of arrests by police districts.

"The number of arrests in the First District are so much higher than anywhere else," Levine said.

According to the report, in the First District, which includes Treme and Mid-City, police arrested more than 7,000 people last year. That's more than double the arrests made in the Fifth District, where the NOPD arrested a little more than 3,000 people.

"And the Fifth District is the Ninth Ward, the Lower and Upper Ninth Ward and also the Bywater," Levine said.

Crime Watch NOLA is hoping the information will give citizens insight about what's going on in the neighborhoods. The group discovered that a breakdown of the city's population by race and gender mirrors the breakdown of crime victims in 2015. They believe that shows that anyone can become a victim.

Levine said she found the sentencing data to be the most surprising.

"The average sentence that criminal defendants served in 2015 for domestic abuse battery was 5.6 months. This compares to the distribution of cocaine, in which somebody would serve 9.3 years," Levine said.

Levine points out that a judge can sentence a domestic abuse battery defendant to between 30 days and 50 years. Distribution of cocaine defendants face between two years and 30 years.

"You see that there is a real difference in value judgment when you see the mandatory minimum of a drug possession case compared to an actual case of violence, like domestic abuse battery," Levine said.

When it comes to armed robbery with a gun, a judge can sentence a defendant between 15 years and 104 years. Court Watch NOLA said Criminal District Court judges in New Orleans impose an average sentence of 21.5 years for the crime.

Also, according to the report, 80 percent of defendants were given a bond of more than $2,500. Fifty-two percent of those defendants were found to be poor or indigent.

"We're presently in the middle of a federal lawsuit. The federal lawsuit relates to imprisoning people, incarcerating people who fail to pay fines or fees. It's unconstitutional. We have found at the federal level that to jail somebody simply because they cannot pay that fine or fee is unconstitutional," Levine said.

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