State of the Criminal Justice System: DA’s Office Making Progress, Prosecuting More Violent Offenders, & Looking at Examining Old Cases

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Tuesday evening Orleans Parish DA Leon Cannizzaro delivered his State of the Criminal Justice System report at Dr. King Charter in the Lower Ninth Ward, not far from the spot where two people were killed and six others shot earlier this month. WGNO News Anchor Vanessa Bolano takes a look at the DA’s plans and how a new NOPD police chief could help.

It’s only his second day as Interim NOPD Chief, but former Commander Michael Harrison is showing his support to a growing, more collaborative relationship between the New Orleans Police Department and the Orleans Parish District Attorney’s office. District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro calling Harrison a credible witness while testifying in narcotics cases in the past.

“I think you’re going to display that same credibility to this community, and I think you’re going to be a very good Superintendent,” says Cannizzaro.

Cannizzaro says since he took office in 2008, he’s rebuilt the DA’s office and the entire Orleans Parish Criminal Justice System. Among the changes, sending professionals to every homicide, letting violent offenders know they will prosecute, and making sure witnesses are safe.

“The criminal justice system had to not only regain the trust of the community, but also it had to convince victims and witnesses that they could cooperate with the system without endangering themselves,” explains Cannizzaro.

Up next, the DA’s office plans to team up with the Innocence Project to create a Conviction Integrity Unit. The unit would examine old cases, much like effort that eventually gave Reginald Adams his life back after being wrongly convicted and incarcerated for 34 years.

In closing Cannizzaro says his focus will always be making our streets safer.

“And until then we should sear the images of those small children from Burgundy Street into our mind as a stark reminder that our work is not over until every, and I do mean every child in New Orleans can play safely in front of his or her home without the threat of gunfire,” says Cannizzaro.