NOVEMBER 30, 2006
The justice system in a Louisiana city is such a disaster that hundreds of violent criminals have been recently freed because they weren’t brought to trial in a timely manner or key evidence was lost by prosecutors.
More than a year after Hurricane Katrina hit the area and forced millions to evacuate, the legal system in New Orleans is still in such turmoil that judges have even ordered jailed inmates to be released, despite their documented history of violent crimes.
After recently ordering the jail release of four inmates, one judge assured that he would soon order more because many cannot get adequate taxpayer-financed representation from the overwhelmed public defender’s office.
The system is in such disarray that thousands of suspects arrested before Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005 have yet to get a court hearing. Thousands more, who are free on bond, apparently evacuated the area and the system has lost track of them. There is also a shortage of jurors, public defenders and even judges.
Additionally, key evidence stored in the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court has been lost because the powerful storm flooded the building. This includes drugs confiscated from suspects, clothing from murder and other crime scenes, DNA samples and weapons. One outraged local judge said the situation is absolutely ridiculous.
In the meantime, violent criminals, drug dealers and a variety of other repeat offenders will continue to roam the streets freely because public officials can’t get it together.
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