Juvenile crime on the rise with few consequences, DA says

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - "The shocking thing is that the kids are so young. It happened right around the time school lets out," Lakeview resident and activist Gino Ascani said.

Police arrested two 15-year-old boys for an alleged aggravated assault last month at 2:30 in the afternoon. Investigators said a woman was inside her Lakeview home when she spotted the juveniles rummaging through her car and yelled at them to stop.

"He reaches in his waist band and grabs a gun and shoots at her. He missed her by a couple of feet. It could have been murder right there," Ascani said.

"I certainly think that there is a juvenile crime problem in the city of New Orleans," said Orleans District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro.

Cannizzaro said the number of juveniles arrested for committing violent crimes is proof that there's a serious problem. According to the DAs office, in 2016, police made 1,492 juvenile arrests, resulting in 300 felony charges. Last year, police made 1,758 arrests which resulted in 490 felony charges.

A felony charge would include crimes such as armed robbery, murder and aggravated assault.

"In many cases, we are finding that some of the felony charges which are allowed to stay in the juvenile court are not given appropriate sentences given to the juvenile offenders, and we find that they are back on the street and committing crimes of violence," Cannizzaro said.

Cannizzaro points to a recent case involving a 15-year-old convicted of five armed robberies and one attempted armed robbery. The judge sentenced him to just one year in a juvenile facility.

"It's not a surprise when we see a 13-year-old, eight days later, try to carjack an undercover Louisiana State Policeman who was working in the scope of his duties," Cannizzaro said.

Cannizzaro said without consequences, the juveniles will likely offend again, and he said many are being re-arrested.

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