Following this morning's killing of Harry Ainsworth, who police say was shot to death in Algiers while trying to stop a carjacking, Mayor Mitch Landrieu this afternoon called on the city's judges to help in stopping violent gun crime before it happens.
The judges of Orleans Parish Criminal District Court as well as New Orelans Municipal Court are being asked to require a minimum bond of $30,000 for any defendant "facing charges of illegal concealment of a weapon or other weapons charges," Landrieu wrote in a letter to CDC Chief Judge Camille Buras and Municipal Court Chief Judge Paul Sens.
The idea is based on one implemented in St. Louis, Landrieu said. (According to this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, it's only about 8 months old. And of course murder numbers in St. Louis, as elsewhere, do tend to vary significantly from year to year. )
"They believed this helped bring down their murder rate," Landrieu said in a press conference at City Hall.
Landrieu said 40 percent of 2011 homicide suspects and 30 percent of victims had previously faced illegal weapons charges, Landrieu said. New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Ronal Serpas today said those numbers are up to 50 percent of suspects and 50 percent of victims in 2012. Higher bonds will, in theory, mean that fewer people will be able to afford the bail amounts to get out of jail and will therefore be less likely to commit violent crime.
Landrieu has added another element to the plan. He's also asking that all those charged with gun crimes be required to wear an electronic monitor and pay for the program themselves, if they're able, as a condition of bonded release.
The city currently pays Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, whose department runs the program, $13.25 per day for adult and $14.75 per day for juvenile participants in the electronic monitoring program. Landrieu awarded the sheriff's office the contract in late 2010. There are now 120 participants in the program, Gusman said today.
The contract currently available on the city's web site calls for a maximum monthly allotment of $50,000, or $600,000 per year, though City Council added an additional $200,000 to Gusman's 2012 electronic monitoring budget.