THE WORST CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM IN AMERICA!
there something special about New Orleans? Of course there is. The city that
care forgot is unique in so many ways. I
could make a list that would go on for pages about the sui generis way of life
that can only be found in the Crescent City.
Enumerations of a special way of living that is a combination of laid
back Caribbean mixed with Creole French and a gumbo of immigrants dating back
hundreds of years that have been a part of a distinct ambiance unequaled
anywhere else in America.
with Mardi Gras, king cakes, Jazz, marvelous restaurants, parades and festivals
year round, the French Quarter, voodoo, crawfish, the Saints, cemeteries above
ground. Then there is Hollywood south, Congo Square, Bourbon Street,
perpetuating artists and writers, and a jolie vie that let’s even the most sober
resident and visitor alike join in laissez
les bons temps rouler.
Here you find the good life that
attracts visitors and new residents from far and wide. But there is a dark side.
In New Orleans there is a corruption
and disintegration of the law that is beyond belief, and it seems to be
growing. New Orleans has, at both the
state and federal levels, the worst criminal justice system in America. Second place is not even close.
The city would be a tough place
to protect even if there was a level of competence that one would expect from
any similar municipality across the country.
New Orleans has the dubious distinction of having the highest murder
rate per capita of any city in the U.S. and is vying for the top homicide rating
in the world. Last year, New Orleans had an incredible 72.8 murders per 100,000,
which is ten times higher than the national average. To give comparisons from other cities, New
York’s rate is three per 100,000, Houston is 12.9, Los Angeles is 9.2 and
Atlanta is 17.2. So the Crescent City is a tough place to keep law and order. To make matters worse, those who are supposed
to keep law and order in New Orleans only exacerbate the problem.
The notorious Danzinger Bridge scandals,
where a number of New Orleans police officers have been convicted of killing
unarmed locals and covering up the crimes just after hurricane Katina, continue
to haunt the city. The storm took place almost eight years ago, and
nonetheless, a number of the prosecutions remain delayed in federal court. The adage that justice delayed is justice
denied finds little favor in New Orleans.
Just last week, the Times
Picayune blared headlines that the city runs the worst prison in the
nation. The sheriff, who oversees the
jail, has come under fire for allowing prisoners to literally run wild. The paper wrote of a city jail that is “an
irredeemable, understaffed and underfunded cesspool of inmate violence, rape
and suicide, unsanitary conditions and deputy corruption.” Assaults by prisoners are a twice a day
occurrence, there is a stabbing on average every 11 days, and a suicide every
Videos were played last week in
federal court showing inmates drinking beer, using drugs, shooting heroin,
laying down money on dice games, and brandishing a loaded pistol. That’s right.
All this while in jail. Another
video shows inmates who had snuck out of prison and were frolicking on Bourbon
Street. You can’t make this stuff up.
So when justice is horribly out
of control, one would expect the feds to come riding in on a white horse to
take over, begin an investigation and save the day. That pretty scenario is only pipedream in New
Orleans. Here is what The Morning
Advocate, the city’s new newspaper, wrote recently. “In the U.S. Attorney’s office in New
Orleans, things are spinning out of control like a Shakespearian tragedy
pulling more and more people into a spiral of doom.”
The U.S. Attorney, along with several of his
assistants, resigned in disgrace, as a federal judge issued a scathing 50 page
order alleging criminal misconduct by former prosecutors who the judge said
testified “falsely” in his court room. The judge ordered a full investigation to be
completed in 30 days, but that was months ago and the Justice Department
continues to drag its feet. Some see a
whitewash taking place. Morning Advocate columnist Dennis Persica lamented:
“The spiral of doom (in the U.S. Attorney’s office) has still not ended…..and
the wreckage and devastation left in this legal cyclone is mind-boggling.” So much for thinking the feds would or could
clean up the mess. As the Wall Street
Journal editorialized recently: “Something
is very rotten at the Department of Justice.”
Fox News rankled local civic
leaders last week by referring to New Orleans as “The Big Sleazy.” Bill O’Reilly elaborated by saying: “It is a
corrupt city and always has been. Why can’t it improve? Why doesn’t it get
Good question Bill. But to solve a problem, you first have to
recognize that the problem exists. I
don’t think, as many say, that the city is in denial. It’s more a despair that there is little hope
for change. The uniqueness of the
American government is the system of checks and balances. The criminal justice system, when working
properly, keeps the pulse of equity thought out the government process. And it works pretty well -- that is, until
there is a meltdown of those who are supposed to defend and protect.
New Orleans is certainly in a
meltdown. And many of those charged with
enforcing the law have become maleficent, or law breakers themselves. It’s time for the city that care forgot to start
caring. It’s time for house cleaning in
the Crescent City. It’s time for a major
changing of the guard in The Big Easy.
“In New Orleans, The past doesn't pass away
so quickly here.
You could be dead for a long
Brown’s syndicated column appears each week in numerous newspapers throughout
the nation and on websites worldwide. You can read all his past columns
and see continuing updates at http://www.jimbrownusa.com
. You can also hear Jim’s
nationally syndicated radio show each Sunday morning from 9 am till 11:00 am,
central time, on the Genesis Radio Network, with a live stream at http://www.jimbrownusa.com