Just a few short months ago, on November 1, 2022, Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams went before the New Orleans City Council and requested his office budget be increased by at least $4.4 million in 2023 – the Crescent City’s highest budget ever for their local prosecutor’s office.
Williams defended this record amount with a promise that if the taxpayers invested in his office, New Orleans would no longer be the murder capital of the country. Yet, the New Orleans Advocate recently highlighted how federal gun prosecutions have surged<> in response to New Orleans crime. So what exactly are residents receiving from the DA for their generosity?
The failed leadership of Orleans Parish will likely argue that violent crime is at an all-time high everywhere and that the federal government stepping in to take over cases is not unusual; but those political soundbites do not align with reality. In fact, federal prosecution of gun crimes has decreased by 11% across the country while those in Greater New Orleans has required an 85% increase. To better understand the void that the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Louisiana is working diligently to fill, a few recent cases might highlight why the Big Easy is being singled out – nationally – for federal intervention.
Consider this: before 73-year-old Linda Frickey bled out in the street after her brutal carjacking, DA Williams dropped previous carjacking charges against one of the teens accused of her senseless murder. He also refused armed robbery charges against the alleged carjacker who attacked a woman outside of Costco – fracturing her skull, face, and neck. He refused multiple domestic abuse charges against Czar Nicholas, who was later arrested for shooting a woman on Canal Street.
One of the alleged murderers of 12-year-old Derrick Cash was previously arrested on numerous gun charges but released after the DA failed to file formal charges within the legal time frame allowed. Camron Bryant was indicted on a litany of charges related to an armed robbery crime spree after the DA let him walk on charges of Attempted First Degree Murder. What’s more: over 880 people were arrested and let back on the streets after the DA failed to make screening decisions on some 1500 charges. Of that number, 50 were considered violent criminals and 250 were considered domestic abusers. Even more crime victims were created by ineptitude in Orleans Parish.
But the problems are not isolated to just the City. What happens in Orleans affects all parishes, with gun crime climbing up and across the boot like a rabid dog. We are a State of 4.5 million people; yet three of the top ten most dangerous cities in our country are right here. We are #1 for murder; #2 for property crime; and until we get some legislation with real teeth that can specifically address this problem, we will continue to hemorrhage as a State.
Thankfully, U.S. Attorney Duane Evans has stepped in for the sake of our citizens left at the mercy of incompetent elected officials in Orleans for far too long. I have offered my assistance in the U.S. Attorney’s valiant efforts.
We were successful in similar endeavors in Northeast Louisiana. In 2018, when gun crimes were soaring in Monroe, we collaborated with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Louisiana to increase arrests and prosecution. As a result, there was a 44% decrease in violent crime within two years. We hope to do the same for New Orleans.
I recognize this federal intervention is a band-aid, not a long-term solution – especially when the crime catastrophe in Orleans, by the numbers, is worse today than after Katrina. But that is why we must work together to solve this issue, from our communities all the way to the capitol. I am ready and willing to solve this problem; but like any emergency situation, we must first stop the bleeding.