Reducing juvenile crime

Newell Normand
Wednesday, May 16th

New Orleans District Attorney, Leon Cannizzaro, joins Newell to talk an increase in juvenile crime.


Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

An initial hour in the studio is a new well as district attorney Leo account as our own we're gonna talk about some concerns that he has relative to. The seriousness of some of the crimes being committed by juveniles in the New Orleans area and I have to say. It's not just the New Orleans area we're seeing this throughout the country. And I'll share some stories with you later. About that so it's not something niche this unique to here. But it's something that we all should be concerned and welcome to the show Leo and thank you very much no I appreciate beyond the opportunity to be here with the first let me say congratulations. You the end of PD in -- office. In the the nine. Wreaking Havoc in true Manny. Heroin dealers. It's always good to see you and Indian OPD take down these folks because I think they're gonna make a difference it's gonna make a difference in that neighborhood for sure. Absolutely you know I certainly my hat goes off to to the chief. Chief Michael Harrison and I certainly appreciate the members of his first district who were involved in this operation for about one year. We also had the support of the ATF and the DEA they had agents involved with this again and had been a yearlong investigation. We turned up nine defendants. Nine defendants and it's so unfortunate that these individuals when we look at where they resided. They did not live and that area they came in from other parts of the city to go into that that that two main street that 262500. Block of two main street. Right by if you are not familiar with that north brought essentially the main intersection would be around north broad and Orleans. A very good neighborhood and they basically had a heroin operation going. Seven days a week 24 hours a day heroin cocaine amphetamines. It was just whenever you want and as you well know you usually get outsiders that come into the neighborhood to buy their drugs. So we had people who were selling drugs who weren't from the neighborhood we get people who were buying the drugs who weren't from the neighborhood. And again one of the disturbing factors about this and again it was a great effort by the police department and our federal partners. But a very disturbing factor about this was that at least four of these individuals the ringleaders of this operation. Head. Being arrested and charged for dealing narcotics on at least three prior occasions. They had open cases in the criminal district court and when they we get arrested. They would be make a bond and they beat back out on the streets again they got arrested again. Made bonds back out on the streets. In some cases it was three and four times and they were dealing the same exact thing in the same locations in so disturbing. I had folks in here yesterday from the Vieira found institute talking about the bail system and I understand some of the concerns that they had. But you know you got to judge. These defendants not on the instant charge. On the quality of life. That they've had and what their history is and everything else and I think we need to get to the point of an assessment tool and you know you're talking about one of the guys Glenn McCormick he was out on bond after being caught with 227. Grams of powdered heroin. I mean and. And he wasn't the only one know the and they were at least three of the other ones are also Althea they had cases pending in several sections of the criminal court. And again they were able to make bond and get out and go in and do the exact same thing and to sort of an insult to injury when the police started executing these arrest warrants. And a significant number of them were also found with heroin. Two of them were found with significant quantities of heroin you know the guns are going to be involved and they had large amounts of cash. These guys are in the business and it's a very very serious and deadly business says you will know. How weird from weird again we're very thankful and I also have to us sort of throw a shout out to one of my assistant side Alex Ko lender. With the young lady Irina is actor covic. Who work this case for assimilated all this information presented this matter to the Orleans parish grand jury for the last month or so. And we're able to bring to bring down this this indictment against these nine individuals. I'm hopeful that we're going to be able to keep them in custody. Because that's where they belong if they get out there is no doubt in my mind that they were called back onto the streets of this city. And ply their trade which is heroin cocaine amphetamines. And and and again make it dangerous for people throughout this city. The youngest offenders seventeen so we know he was in gauge in this activity well while being a juvenile. Mount you another set that's a very very logical conclusion you can draw from from the facts that we see here. So what's so moved to the subject at hand has been a some concerning statistics and trends that you've been kind of monitoring in the juvenile crime marina tell us about the. Well unfortunately we have seen pay and very fun. Natural spike from and it's all basically objective measures were getting our numbers from the police department from the juvenile court. As well as our own numbers and we're seeing that juvenile crime is absolutely surging in the city of new worlds in our juvenile court. We look at the number of convictions that took place in 2015. We have roughly a 195. Juveniles convicted and we're talking about a felony charges. 2016. That number increases to 228. Felony adjudication its 2017323. Felony adjudication in juvenile court. Thus far in 2018. Were already at 120. Warned. Felony adjudication if we continue at this pace we will be around 425. Felony adjudication which. If you look at the total number of convictions which took place in 2015. And 2016. This will exceed that. Same thing can be said with regard to the misdemeanor charges and the number of arrests that we're seeing. By the police department of juvenile offenders for violent offenses. Crimes of violence is increasing significantly and has increased for the last several years. What are you seeing and as a relates to school campus. Issues I mean usually that's you know the first reflection of what's about to happen in the community when you start seeing and battery on teachers battery and students. Theft on campuses. You know we see I I am involved in that in the screening process of reviewing process evolves juvenile cases we meet on a weekly basis and go over that. The cases that have been made by the police department for the last for the past week. And what we're finding as we are seeing that there are a significant number of charges that are taking place in the schools. Battery as you said you certainly 888. One of the leading crimes that we will find. But unfortunately were also finding a lot of narcotics on the school campuses we're finding kids that are bringing guns to school. We're finding kids that are not afraid to get up and make very serious threats to teachers and other students. Again we found aggravated battery charges that is where someone is beating on someone with and we found in cases of brass knuckles. Or knives in their carding another student. So we're seeing a very very serious trend in the schools. I I think you know I eight. With regard to one of the districts in the city of new loans out in the east. And we talked about up a problem that where we think that the problem begins certainly is with the truancy. You wanna make sure that they that the that the kids or in school and if they are not in school. We have to somehow get officials involved a lot earlier then we are presently doing and I know they have a lot of sort of I hate to say it's sort of red tape. The school administrators have to go through in order to bring these sorts of events to the attention of the students and the parents. And unfortunately in the meantime that the student is the student is suffering significantly. I think one general comment and you know this was echoed by many of the people we met with last week and I've seen this. From my experiences in dealing with the Cuban thousand even some of the young adults that we find in our criminal justice system. The more engaged the parents or with the juvenile. Be it in school or if a child gets in trouble if the parent is engaged. There is a far better chance of that child being successful in school. And there is a form better chance of that child not coming back into our juvenile system or even our adult system. And unfortunately we see in many of these cases. Enough of the parents are not engaged or not involved with their children and either their education. Or Wendy Wendy Wendy. And slip up and make a mistake and I'm not talking about the serious crimes we talked about the nonviolent offenses. Which is what we find many of them common yen to the system as as as as first offenders. We find the parents are not engage is a very very good chance that the juvenile will come back again. Italy on I always thought that a lot of this stems from. I thought I hit up that we had an assist them many years ago where we and we imploded. The juvenile incarceration system in advance. Of trying to implement alternatives to incarceration. And we did so I think it was well intentioned. But we put the cart before the horse we did not fully full on alternatives where we would monitor. A more robust probation and parole. You know monitoring. The stuff because a juvenile judges have a lot of discretion and it's not like being in adult court. And I often made. The critical statement. That we can't babysit the kids through the process. Because once they reach eighteen. If they're offending within the first six to twelve months of reaching adulthood. Then we have failed in the juvenile arena. But we never really looked to see who's offending early on as early onset adults. And judging the effectiveness in the efficacy of the programs that were involved in in the juvenile rain. Look up I would certainly agree with that I think that again I I have said this that you'll find that in the majority of cases. No juvenile offender or adult offender goes out and commits the first crime as a murder or an arm robbery a serious crime of violence. We see that they will start with minor offenses and in many cases it is nonviolent offenses some of the major ones will be stings like theft. Our possession of narcotics. One of the problems that I think we're seeing right now in and I think that again the judges play an extremely important role. With regard to individuals who come into the system. French it's in juvenile court in New Orleans. A number of text talk texting in about incidents that they've experienced in their little frustrated with the follow up and and where there are you know part of prominent juvenile arena's everything secret. So you Keira really shared I think a lot of folks don't realize that until they become the victim. That does not a lot of information that can come back your way and you just got to be patient because. They're good reasons for that I'm I'm not one it's been an advocate for a ceremony Ellis on the issue but I do wanna be fair all sides and understand some of the good issues there. Well it is secretive until a judge makes a determination. Except in crimes of violence that there is probable cause for the rest of the juvenile than the proceedings become public and and people have the right to go when and listened to to what is going one. You you made a point before the break no and I I think it's an excellent point is that you you look to the services. That have to be available. When someone comes into the system as a first offender and in as they say the overwhelming majority of cases you're going to see that it's a nonviolent offender. I think Kansas I also said that that the judge is certainly a very important player in that process. You know free agents in the adult court when someone is arrested. They are brought before a judge. Whether the charges ranging from first degree murder all the way down to possession of a small amount of narcotics they are they're presented to a judge. That's not the case in juvenile court. A juvenile can walking in in New Orleans in entity be brought into the U studies center by the arresting officer. And evaluation. Is done of that juvenile offender in depending upon the score he gets in his or her evaluation. That individual could be released to his parents without ever seeing a judge would just say oh wait and see if we subpoena he will bring you back for court. Or that person could be brought 48. They they they could put them in some sort of a mentoring or monitoring program. Or the person could be detain those essentially the alternatives. And in many cases we're finding that in those first two. Alternatives where the person is either sent back to the parent. Or they or refer to some mentoring are monitoring program. We find that the individual is there's never any judicial participation. Or involvement. I think it's extremely important that the judge be fair that the judge at least tell that individual. Listen I'm going to release UT Paris and I think it it wouldn't be a bad idea and I've been advocating this this was something certainly we did in criminal court. It wouldn't be a bad idea that if a person is going to be released. Then make them come back every so often and demonstrate to the judge that they're doing the things that they should do. That group would prevent them from coming back like. Going to school which is the most important thing and attending school on a regular basis. Or if that if the offender has for attempts to substance abuse problem get on the drug testing. Get him the drug counseling looking to certain mental health issues and address some of the things early on. So that you can get some of the problems in the butt. But if you simply and and this is what I think where we are failing. If you simply bring a a youthful offender in two way quart are in to the detention center here she doesn't even go to the court. The judge releases some and then they wait. Now and they may go back to court they may not go back to court. There is is really that really has no we impacted my opinion it has no effect on them. And so they're going to think the system is a joke the police officers arresting them so what he arrested me I took a ride down there a mile and and and again. That's where we see I think the recidivism sorting to set in the. And I and and I would agree we'll scuttle on one talk to waning Canner what say you can't wing. I you Brooke most. Obama is maybe it's not dependent upon you without men entered their article in my bag with a guy out but he does not. Yeah it was I don't know these few minutes of permanent. Noted that about it and look forward to. Community. Well thank you Wayne that's idea elite Leon cameras are that strong and as Sony ethic a lot of people are frustrated you know when we say it just the other day had JP cop was shot by us a sixteen year old kid looked like he was given out raises his hands. Signatories himself on gasoline pump goes into his pocket pulls a gun shoots he officer and hip could have been tragic. Saw that at capsule that was on that was on the news that was a very very unfortunate event you're actually right and look and in some cases we do have to transfer the juvenile some of the fifteen and sixteen year olds but you criticized for doing that in and appeared at a time and I mean it's like okay what are my alternatives mean you know that they're engaged in shock the conscience. Violations. Well I think and that's exactly right and no you know we did that on a case by case basis it's not like every sixteen or fifteen year old that committed one of the transferable crimes and their only a few. And there are crimes of violence were talking about the murders were talking about the armed robberies were talking about rapes. We looked at those cases on an individual basis. But we review them with the arresting officer as we met with the witnesses we met with victims we even reached out to defense attorneys to say if there are some. Circumstances here which you feel mitigate such that we should not truths in this case present that to us. It's it's not a it's not something that we take lightly it's a very very serious responsibility because we know there is a serious consequence if they are can. It did in the adult court you don't always mystified me. It is people that they criticize as though one more felony case in adult court. Is gonna rock your world I mean it's like you wake up in the morning saying man I gotta get ten more in there. I mean. You know NO PD's make an over 30000 felony arrest a year now what's one more it's like really if you think we're waking up every morning. Trying to craft a way to get more felony if we want less. Absolutely and I look you. The the police you know I I would love and I think the police would love to be able to. Patrol when those neighborhoods and see people out there enjoying each other children riding bikes rather than having to chase. Individuals for help their selling drugs carrying guns are or burglarizing call ours our home side. I I agree with you and I I certainly know that the that the police they are there to do a very very important job and unfortunately. You know us we are we are going to offend some people when when we go after some people aggressively and I think it's. That that's what we that's our responsibility we have to look at the case is individual we make a call. And we evaluate those cases with the police and their input you know it's. I'm very I'm very fortunate that time I've been here we've had a very good working relationship with our police department. I've had the opportunity to work with two very very good superintendent some very proud of that and I'm also proud of the fact that prior to may be any other district attorney we've workflow also with. Federal law enforcement agencies in any of my predecessors had ever done FB ID EA ATF. US attorney's office we've worked with these individuals and it's all about public safety. That is the most important thing in the minds of the people in the city of new loans it has continued to be for very long period of time. And until we can get a better handle on the crime problem especially the violent crime problem. I think we're people are gonna continue to live in fear in the city hospital on one talked to Lynn what say you Lynn. Hi my question is this. Very and that mark in the initial service industry. Are all there are many many there are great that Al Egypt and there is taking it. EDE. There and or. Shuttle. My question what happened when he hit that and EXP. By the hand held liable if you kill fifteen year old how. A young are on a coffee shop now at say it out. But what you may not. Know what caught that yet again. You know let's say for instance a case like that when there is a staff Pete talk about services that are available. You know we have a diversion program there is a there is a juvenile drug court program. There or services available you're absolutely correct and when we deal with juvenile it's extremely important that. The parent as I said be involved that they have to be engaged in this process. They have to sort of work with us and our our diversion program which. Essentially allows an individual to avoid prosecution and we will not file the charges against him for some of the nonviolent. Offenses if they will successfully complete this program the program usually entails getting an education to staying in school. Working with say if there are certain other mental health issues of substance abuse issues. We try to work with them to keep them out of the system but again a parent has to being gate there are no laws on the books that simply say. If a parent allows a juvenile I just because the juvenile commits a crime there are no laws in place that allow for the parent to be held responsible criminally. And we we gotta say there are good parents that have bad kids. And if that's exactly right and we've seen that they've tried everything and it just sometimes it just doesn't work out so it it's not as easy as some people wanna. Think that it may be. Let's go to Michael online three what say you Michael. I just ship bug you ought perhaps the better watch fighting decried as she got. Say instead of you know we should balance the legislator or a money making decisions that crap and so it spending money on the next. You police are we hired. Are bitten. Yeah other prisoners rehabilitated. But it change your daily report effort. Also. Perhaps. At this paper binders and of certain properties or industry. To invest in certain regions where that crime is it because we on this day. Humans or yes. Dislike about it will make Arnold. Well I don't think there's any doubt in a note that the DA believes just as we've talked about this before it's a healthy balance I mean you need alternatives to incarceration all around programs right. You need and you just senator early and you need no more monitoring more mentoring. And bitchy when you do that you need follow up you need report what's happening you know I remember. That we had a case in in in Jefferson where they put the electronic monitoring bracelet on on on their ankle. We had one kid that cut off thirteen. And I can't I mean at what number. Do you wake up and say. There's been working so maybe we got to try something else that doesn't mean. They automatically have to go to jail but it means something's not working in the monitoring in the mentoring here is not working and we need to fine tune it. When you talk about the the electronic monitoring we've had cases and are you aware of this and Orleans where they've been on murders that committed murders with the electronically with the bracelet are committed armed robbers. It certainly helps us in our prosecution because it pinpoints them and puts them at the location. But it's certainly there is there there's something wrong with that and Michael makes another appointment I like to comment on he said you know. We do and Michael we do we have people that we have hired who have been in custody. We've worked who work with us now in our social services program their diverging counselors and we have individuals like that who worked with the juvenile and the adults and again it's about since these individuals have sort of walk the walk may have been involved with narcotics they've been on the streets. There and a very very good position to try to help some of the youthful offenders. To say get out of that business it's a no win situation for you and that they've been very very effective in doing that it's certainly something that. I'm very glad that I did but we'd we'd do reach out to as many people as we can't. And we are trying to you certainly get in we we got to get into the heads of the young men and women and and our community to get them away from the drugs and get them away from the violence. You know it's one of the few regrets that I had his it wasn't able to stimulate. Momentum enough to increase the spend. On drug treatment court. I think they've had a lot of successes. There and you know to make it robust more follow up more everything and and and most of all more participants could draw the drugs or drive and. Lot of or no question about it look I have I have already proposed to the City Council I had done this in the past I'm willing to do would again. And we'll have a new councilman new administration hopefully we get a more receptive -- to our proposal but we have said. If we can get the appropriate funding I would like to expand the diversion program to include all people who were brought into the system for simply possessing narcotics. Not talking about the dealers. We talk about people who have who possessed narcotics arrest that and has a problem that's exactly right. Certainly took to incarcerate them. Is not is he has not been helpful what's an illness. It exactly right and and one way or the other and I was I when I'm hopeful that with the diversion program and I look a lot of people shy away from the diversion program because it's easier for them. To go and plead guilty get to convict actually in the probation won't be as difficult as diversion will be well there's not an anything easy about drug rehabilitation I agree with that end and end the person has to make the commitment and it's got to be a commitment on an op every single second of your life you have to essentially commit to. I will not use drugs and I will not do those things are gonna get me the resources. Two to use these drugs Keenan a bottle three times a week. To keep an honest on the area held a Leo we have just a few minutes left any final thoughts. Well I first off thank you for giving me this opportunity today Newell and you know I am I am hopeful that the citizens of Orleans parish. Will I get behind the new City Council members will get behind the new administration. And let them know that again I think we have to take somewhat of a different approach with record to the juvenile crime problem that is existing in our city. It is something that I think we we have to address again. Services certainly are something that we appreciate they have to be provided. But I also think with for gore to some of the people who are engaged in violent acts we we cannot sort of a coddle these individuals. And look at look at them is simply wayward children when someone goes up to another individual and fires are gone our sticks and gone in that particular person for the purpose of robbing them. They're dangerous and they're violent and that has to be addressed and they have to be taken off the streets of but I do think we have some problems that we have to address. And I'm hoping that are new counsel and our new mayor will certainly give those those problems that much needed attention that they deserve. You know and I think we need to support the new council and a new administration as well said that over and over again and we all want success and we're all in this together and if we can't be the cheerleader at this point before they've actually. Done any thing I don't know when we can because every decision right people agree with you that go to an apple so right now's the time to created. Mickey's feelings known may have your feelings known thank you very much a must are joining us. We really appreciate you taking time body intact.