May 17, 2019

Jason Rogers Williams

Councilmember Jason Williams Issues Statement on Juvenile Intervention Strategies

Councilmember Jason Williams Issues Statement on Juvenile Intervention Strategies

NEW ORLEANS - Councilmember-At-Large Jason Williams has issued the following statement regarding the District Attorney's Office and juvenile intervention strategies:

"District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro is not wrong that early intervention is an invaluable deterrent to juvenile crime. But his definition of intervention is jail. His proposal to arrest and detain all juvenile curfew violations misses the mark. It assumes our options for intervention are as limited as they were twenty years ago. This is simply not the case according to the data produced around youth development, trauma, and the effects of incarceration on the greater community.

The science is clear that heavy-handed punitive action by law enforcement is as much an indicator of recidivism as any. With this information, district attorneys and child advocates around the nation are shifting their tactics to produce better outcomes. We cannot keep using the same old tools that have not made us safer and do not address root causes of the problem. We have to be very cautious that we are not cannibalizing ourselves and aggravating this problem while trying to fix it.

We have already been working collaboratively with the administration and Chief Ferguson to develop a robust youth intervention strategy which taps into existing youth resources and looks to new programming to provide additional outlets to serve at-risk youth. Together we have been aggressively working on protocols for city-wide curfew and a deployment of strategic electronic monitoring with improved and direct NOPD administration. We have to be particularly focused on making sure this next deployment of electronic monitoring is in fact supported with up to the minute, real-time, and continuous monitoring of the locations of system involved youth. If employed thoughtfully, this strategic electronic monitoring initiative can be used for repeat curfew violators, enabling us to use geo-locating technology so that we know when repeat violators are out after hours. There certainly is no best practice that suggests that incarceration is an appropriate response to curfew violations. Detention is absolutely an option but cannot be the only one.

Regarding curfew, we must make sure that we are not solely focused on the picking up of curfew violators, but pursuing the root causes of young people being out of their homes after hours. This means much more than just detention. It means intervention not only with the young person but with their families. It involves engagement, not just with law enforcement but social services, to help address those situations where the young person's home may not be a safe space for them.

To truly intervene in the lives of our city's juveniles requires the focus and collaboration of all city agencies and departments as well as all actors in the criminal justice system - not bickering and grandstanding. Attacking our juvenile and district court judges, the New Orleans Police Department, City Hall, Federal Judge Morgan, the Department of Justice and the Consent Decree Monitors is not a recipe for success. Our safety and our children are too important to be narrow-minded and siloed."



Media Contact:

Katie Hunter-Lowrey

Director of Communications

Councilmember-At-Large Jason Rogers Williams

(504) 345-4076

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