Orleans DA Williams fights mass incarceration while being tough on violent crime

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NEW ORLEANS— During the race for New Orleans District Attorney, Jason Williams promised to be tough on crime, but also to fight mass incarceration.

He spoke with WGNO-TV about that balancing act and keeping his campaign promises.

Williams said, “Court being closed for over a year when we probably thought it was going to be a few months. You’re talking about having very, very swollen dockets which means you can’t focus, we can’t focus, courts can’t focus on violent crime, on car burglaries, on the things that are plaguing our community because we’re trying to do everything.”

Williams has been in office for less than three months, and he’s dismissed over 400 cases.

“We’ve been really smart and shrewd with getting rid of the old minor cases that could not have been proven in the first place, so that we could focus on the most serious cases and that has been helpful in ending mass incarceration and being smart on crime,” said Williams.

Of the cases dismissed, 55% were narcotics related, 65% were more than 2 years old, and 40% of the accepted cases were weapons-related. In an effort to free up more resources for his office, Williams also directed his staff to no longer oppose pardon and parole applications.

According to Williams, “That really is not the role of the prosecutor. You have a parole board that is appointed by the governor. They work on that work every day. That is in their job description. That is their wheel house, that is their sole responsibility.”

This approach to running the office could be seen as soft on crime and making our city less safe, but Williams says that is not the case, “Come July, when courts are open for trials, we’re going to be ready to go and try those very difficult, very tough cases in which people have hurt people in the City of New Orleans. Some people got to go to jail. That is the job of this office, and people are going to jail, but we’re making sure it’s the right people.”

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