MCC report: Even violent felony suspects overwhelmingly recommended for release

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The Metro Crime Commission has released a new report on the prison reform efforts and program to let more suspects out of jail while they await trial.

The report finds, "The Pretrial Services Program classified 87% of felony suspects at Risk Levels that carry a recommendation for free Release on Recognizance (ROR) bonds whenever possible."

That means most suspects in violent crimes are classified as deserving to pay no bond to get out after their arrest and not face any monitoring ahead of trial.

"Only 8% of felony suspects were rated the highest Risk Level 5, which provides for a maximum supervision designation of two monthly phone calls and at least three monthly face-to-face interactions."

The MCC also found that between July 2018 and March 2019 arrestees accused of violent felonies and felonies with weapons were overwhelmingly deemed low risk.

  • Free bond release was recommended for 75% of violent felony and 93% of weapons felony suspects.
  • A third (33%) of violent felony and 29% of weapons felony suspects were rated the lowest Risk Level 1 which recommends free release with no supervision.
  • Murder, rape, robbery, and attempted murder suspects receive Risk Level ratings, but the Pretrial Services Program does not recommend a level of release supervision. Low PSA Risk Levels that carry a recommendation of free release were assigned to 83% of these violent suspects.
  • Twenty-nine percent(29%) of murder and 38% of rape suspects were rated the lowest Risk Level 1.

Mayor LaToyal Cantrell's office defending the PSA program in a letter to WWL TV.

"The Public Safety Assessment is about using data to inform decisions and improve outcomes,” spokeswoman LaTonya Norton wrote. “The results of the assessment are considered alongside other relevant information, including all factors required by Louisiana statute, and the judge or commissioner uses their discretion to determine if the accused can safely await their trial in the community."

Norton pointed out that the vast majority of suspects who are released before trial – whether on their own recognizance or on bail – make all of their court appearances and avoid re-arrest.

“Since the PSA (Public Safety Assessment) was launched in New Orleans, 92% of individuals recommended for release have completed their entire pretrial period without being re-arrested,” Norton wrote. “Only 5% of individuals whose charges where accepted missed a court date and did not voluntarily return to court at a later date.”

Click here from WWL TV's report...

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