One out of every seven adults living in New Orleans, Louisiana, has a warrant out for their arrest, according to the Washington Post.
“Typically, the crime is failing to appear for scheduled court dates for minor, nonviolent offenses that do not carry a jail sentence, including panhandling and fishing without a license. (Two notable exceptions are battery and domestic abuse, which account for roughly 6 percent of all the warrants.),” the report said.
However, the article stated that elected officials and civil rights organizations have proposed an erasure of all 56,000 warrants in an effort to curb the threat of arrests. The effort follows in the footsteps of San Francisco, California, and Ferguson, Missouri; cities that have also attempted to implement similar programs.
One group advocating for the erasure is Stand With Dignity, whose website states that it is a grassroots organization for “Black workers and families dedicated to winning inclusion, opportunity, and racial equity in the New Orleans economy. Stand is leading a comprehensive strategy to win full and fair employment for Black workers locked into structural and long-term employment and low-wage jobs.”
In February, a report said violent crimes committed by juveniles were hitting record highs, according to WWL-TV.
The report stated:
Juvenile felony arrests in New Orleans have more than doubled in three years, from 300 in 2016 to 735 last year. Inside those numbers there is an even more troubling trend. Juvenile violent crimes prosecuted by the DA’s office – shootings, armed robberies and sexual assaults – jumped nearly 10-fold since 2015, spiking from 37 cases in 2015 to 339 last year, according to statistic compiled by Orleans Parish Juvenile Court.
In May, city officials urged parents to be more responsible for their children and implemented a summer curfew after police said a 17-year-old fatally shot a woman whose car he was attempting to burglarize.
“It is time to take ownership of your kids,” said New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Shaun Ferguson. “Be responsible for these kids. We as a department, we as a criminal justice system, we as a city government can not do this alone. We do need your help with this.”
On Wednesday, city council member Jason Williams will introduce a resolution to the council calling for “the dismissal of all warrants and charges associated with crimes of poverty and homelessness, such as obstruction of a public passageway and trespassing,” according to the Post article.
However, chief judge of the Municipal Court, Paul Sens, said he is concerned about the calls to erase every warrant.
“There are a lot of people who come into this court and do what’s expected of them,” he commented. “So why did this guy who’s got 20 cases and $5,000 worth of fines get his wiped out and they didn’t? It’s a balancing act you have to do.”