NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro says juvenile crime is the number one crime problem in the City of New Orleans and something must be done.
“That an armed teenager took this woman’s life during a botched auto burglary is unexcuseable,” says Cannizzaro.
Cannizzaro says last week’s senseless murder of Zelda Townsend on Cleveland Avenue should not be forgotten. And he says attacking the city’s juvenile crime problem is a must.
“An impotent pattern of catch and release has become the norm. But we are seeing the folly of that approach and the increased danger and expense it posed on out community.”
Cannizzaro says he doesn’t believe all juvenile offenders should be detained but he says they must be held accountable for their actions.
“Jail is just one outcome. I personally review dozens of juvenile cases each week to route some teens into our diversion program. I believe the city should restore funding for electronic ankle monitoring to the juvenile court as a deterring alternative to detention.”
In his proposed plan, Cannizzaro says juvenile court judges need to be tougher on repeat offenders and he believes they should be willing to penalize neglectful parents or guardians.
“Uninvolved parents can be subjected to fines and penalties as provided in revised statute 14:92.2, the state law against improper supervision of a minor by a parent or legal custodian.”
He says most importantly he believes there should be a push for a conclusion to the NOPD’s Federal Consent Decree.
“They are not allowed to do what police do, proactively patrol in the neighborhoods to look for suspicious activity. The no chase law has hampered their efforts to apprehend criminals who they see in the act of committing a crime. They jump in the car and flee. The police are handcuffed and cannot pursue. I think that’s important.”
Cannizzaro calls the situation dire and says taking action to stop juvenile crime is not an option.
The Orleans Parish DA’s plan also includes curfew enforcement.
Last week, Mayor Latoya Cantrell announced the NOPD will aggressively enforce curfew through the Summer months.
The City released a statement responding to the district attorney’s comments Thursday afternoon saying,
“We are glad to see that the District Attorney agrees with what the Mayor and what Chief Ferguson had to say on this issue last week: that the solution calls for a system-wide change in how things are done, regardless of the consent decree. The wholesale improvements and reforms that need to be made will have to come on a system-wide level, across the board. We look forward to working with the DA’s office, and with all of our partners. Mayor Cantrell and Chief Ferguson are taking steps to convene a meeting of all involved stakeholders. We believe the DA has a role to play, and we look forward to him joining us.”