Metropolitan Crime Commission attributes increase to better coordination between the NOPD and the DA's office
A report released Wednesday by the Metropolitan Crime Commission (MCC) documents a sharp rise in violent and weapons felony convictions resulting in greater sentences to incarceration.
The report examines trends in Orleans Parish arrests, newly accepted felony prosecutions, and convictions over a two-year period from July of 2010 through June of 2012.
The first six months of 2012 had a 45% increase in felony convictions and a 68% increase in incarcerations compared to the previous six month period. During the first six months of 2012, violent and weapons felony convictions reached their highest levels over the two-year study period and rose to 437 violent felony convictions and 179 weapons felony convictions.
MCC President Rafael Goyeneche noted, “We see police and prosecutors better coordinating their resources on the most serious cases. They are refining their policies on arrest and prosecution to more strategically accomplish their common goal of a safer community.”
The report finds there were greater numbers of defendants guilty of lesser charges in the first six months of 2012, which increased by 71% from the previous six months.
“The shift in plea bargaining was not for expediency but for the sake of securing felony convictions against violent and repeat offenders which resulted in the highest incarceration rate since we began tracking in 2007,” said Goyeneche.
The report also found a significant drop in dismissed cases, which Goyeneche attributes to improved screening of cases by the DA’s Office and stronger investigations by the NOPD.
Arrests overall increased by 13% in the first six months of 2012 largely due to police making more arrests for out-of-parish warrants. Half of those arrested for out-of-parish warrants were released from jail within one day.
“We see police regressing in an area where they had made progress over the past two years,” Goyeneche said. “The police must ensure that expenditure of officers’ time is justified by the benefit to public safety.”