District Attorney says “the devil is in the details,” in response to two city programs to address juvenile crime

District Attorney says “the devil is in the details,” in response to two city programs to address juvenile crime

NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - A day after fed up neighbors protested outside City Hall calling for action to address juvenile crime. We’re learning more about two programs the City says it’s rolling out to combat the problem.

“We have launched an evening reporting center, the acronym is ERC, that program is an intervention program,” said City of New Orleans Criminal Justice Commissioner, Tenisha Stevens.

Stevens says the city started the Evening Reporting Center on December 1. It’s run by licensed social workers and is for teens who have committed a minor offense. They’re required to report there Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. We’re told nine juvenile offenders have entered the program since it started last month.

“The kids have to follow the strict guidelines of the program and also the strict guidelines that are mandated by the juvenile court judges, what restrictions have been placed on them by the judicial branch, however the program is run by licensed clinical social workers,” said Stevens.

The City has also developed what it calls an intensive supervision program where staff conduct random checks three times a week to make sure juvenile offenders are compliant with any orders issued from the court.

“We’re one of the few parishes that do not have a probationary program so, we identified that need under this administration about eight months ago. We have begun working on how we bring stakeholders together in the Juvenile Justice Center,” said the Executive Director of the Juvenile Justice Intervention Center, Kyshun Webster, Ph.D.

It’s a program Webster says takes a deep drive into family interventions in an effort to get to the root cause of why the juvenile is committing crimes.

“I think all intervention and prevention programs matter because it affects decision making and the more we have positive adults and positive options for young people it helps them choose otherwise. So, I think they are effective and we’re trying to provide more tools and options to make available to the judiciary branch of this administration,” said Webster.

We reached out to the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office about the City’s programs. In a statement D.A. Leon Cannizzaro said:

"While we welcome any additional City commitment providing rehabilitative alternatives to incarceration for non-violent or first-time juvenile offenders, the devil is in the details. Such programs must be scaled to have an effective and meaningful impact, rather than be inadequate attempts to paper over known problems.

“It is our understanding the Evening Reporting Center has been operating for some time, with capacity limited to 15 clients and operating hours of only 4 p.m.-8 p.m. As for the proposed enhanced supervision program, its effectiveness cannot be judged without more clarity on its staffing, client capacity, protocols and caseload ratio.”

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