NEW ORLEANS - Today, City Council Vice President and Criminal Justice Committee Chair Jason Williams held a special Criminal Justice Committee Meeting to discuss the City's current data on crime, juvenile justice in New Orleans and strategies to be more effective. The committee heard presentations from City Council Public Safety Analyst Jeff Asher, retired Judge Calvin Johnson, Troi Bechet from the Center for Restorative Approaches, and Talvin Paul of the Youth Advocacy Program.
Committee Chair Jason Williams says, "Today's Criminal Justice Committee convening is one in a series of meetings and discussions to explore specific strategies for positive intervention in the lives of young people. Through research and transparent, public-facing presentation of data, we can precisely address problems. When burglaries are up, that requires specific strategies. When shootings are up, that requires a very different set of solution-oriented strategies. Very rarely is a 'one size fits all' approach effective and efficient. It is our responsibility as public servants and elected officials to analyze the issues our constituents face in a thoughtful, rational manner with a vision for short and long term results. We must not rely on reactionary sound bites and outdated strategies.
Our common thread on this issue is that everyone completely agrees with the need for intervention. We have heard from the administration that there are not enough services for juvenile populations. We have heard this same call from the Judges, the Office of Youth & Families, and the District Attorney. Clearly, we must endeavor to find these service providers in our region to solve this pressing problem. With continued collaboration, we can and we will craft and create new intervention strategies and programs to deal with certain groups of young offenders. A strategic electronic monitoring program will certainly be a necessary component of all of these programs to ensure up to the minute public accountability and to provide a certain measure of control by our presiding Juvenile Court Judges."
Retired Criminal District Court Chief Judge Calvin Johnson says, "One of the things that is clear is that we must deal with the whole child, not simply deal with the criminal aspects of the child who has done a bad thing. We must recognize that there are adverse childhood experiences such as trauma, dysfunctional families, and environmental chaos all impacting the child. Therefore, we must treat the child, the parent, and the situation the child lives in."
Troi Bechet, Founder and CEO of the Center for Restorative Approaches says, "Restorative Justice diversion programs around the country have been operating effectively for decades. These programs address victim needs in ways that produce much higher satisfaction rates than traditional justice system processes and hold youth accountable for their mistakes in ways that foster resilience and responsibility in them. New Orleans would be well served by introducing restorative justice diversion to our system."
Public Safety Analyst Jeff Asher says, "The data shows that many types of crime citywide, specifically violent crime, is down, even historically so in certain categories. The increase in vehicle burglaries remains an important issue, and hopefully one that can be solved by focusing on interventions aimed at preventing juveniles from reoffending through alternatives to incarceration."
Talvin Paul, Southwest President of the Youth Advocate Program says, "The Youth Advocate Program has a track record of serving as an effective community-based alternative to youth incarceration with our model of hiring and training neighborhood advocates who provide intensive mentorship that help youth identify and realize their strength while connecting them and their parents or guardians to tools that stabilize their foundation. This helps kids and families and neighborhoods and thrive. We do this at a fraction of the cost of incarceration."
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Councilmember-At-Large Jason Rogers Williams