NEW ORLEANS - On April 27, the annual report of Court Watch NOLA was presented to the Criminal Justice Committee of the New Orleans City Council. One section of the report includes data on the number of victims of sexual and domestic violence that the District Attorney jails to try and force to testify.
This presentation comes alongside recent news revealing the DA's unethical practice of issuing illegal, fake subpoenas to coerce witnesses. Given the continued resistance from District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro in reforming outdated and draconian practices, Councilmember Jason Williams will introduce legislation condemning these methods, which serve to set us further backward.
This resolution will demand that the District Attorney discontinue the incarceration of domestic violence and sex crime victims on material witness warrants. There is a significant precedent for making this change, as district attorneys in other jurisdictions have discontinued issuing material witness warrants for ALL victims.
There are serious consequences to survivors of violence when their experience with the DA continues the abuse they have already endured at the hands of the offender. Creating a prosecutorial culture where our most vulnerable and traumatized victims are treated as if they are criminals is as damaging as the act which lead them into court in the first place.
New Orleans has the unfortunate distinction of being the most incarcerated place in the nation. This distinction dictates that we leave no stone unturned in the pursuit of reforming the broken aspects of the system. The Criminal Justice Committee of the City Council has expressed a commitment to our City to push back on this harmful culture and will now use legislative instruments to solidify that commitment.