Candidates for New Orleans DA discuss criminal justice reform

Candidates for New Orleans DA discuss criminal justice reform

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Those running to become the next District Attorney of New Orleans got a chance to talk directly to voters.

The Coalition of Justice Reform hosted an online forum last night and it covered several topics.

Three of the four candidates spoke to hundreds of voters over Zoom last night to tell them why they would be the best person for the job.

Candidates were asked how they would approach the position, specifically on issues like mass incarceration and juvenile crime.

New Orleans is currently at the top of the list in number of incarcerations in the highest state, in the highest country in the world.

All three candidates agreed on a number of topics like granting the possibility of parole to juveniles who have been sentenced to life in prison and also diverting resources to things like mental health services and drug addiction rather than incarceration.

They were also asked if elected, would they advocate for defunding money from the District Attorney’s Office and giving more money to the Public Defenders Office.

“I started that in 2007 after Katrina in which I issued rulings and subpeonas to the governor and legislative figures to make sure they would fulfill their responsibility to adequately fund he Public Defenders Office,” says former Orleans Parish Criminal Court judge Arthur Hunter.

“Yes. I will publicly agree for my office to take less money from he city coffers so that we can have a fair fight in court,” says City Council Member at Large Jason Williams. “I believe the District Attorney’s Office can be run more efficiently than it’s being used now. Right now there’s a lawyer there who’s being paid $100,000 a year. He doesn’t try any cases. It’s a cush job because he’s friends with the current district attorney.”

“I believe that in order for the justice to work fairly for everyone, there has to be parity in the system so that all offices can work in the way that they should. And as far as your question about defunding the police department, I also believe in that to the extent that we use those resources for other social services in our community,” says former criminal court judge Keva Landrum.

Candidates were also given a lightning round of questions where they simply held up a yes or no sign to certain questions involving issues on bail, immigration and unanimous juries.

The election to pick a new DA for New Orleans will be held the same day as the presidential election on November 3.

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