Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro, delivering his third annual State of the Criminal Justice System speech June 12, called on Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council to increase his office's budget in 2013.
"Long before any of you arrived at City Hall, the DA's office became the redheaded stepchild of criminal justice funding," Cannizzaro said before an audience that included Landrieu and City Council President Jackie Clarkson. "We will be unable to continue at our current level of output given our dwindling resources."
Landrieu's proposed 2012 budget allocated $6.16 million to the DA, the same amount he received in 2011. During the November 2011 budget hearings, however, Cannizzaro said his office faced increased health insurance costs and the expected loss of $800,000 in federal grant funding in 2012. The funding his office got, he said, was in effect a $1.2 million cut. That was partially offset by a last-minute $500,000 increase from the City Council, earmarked for witness protection.
A 2011 analysis the DA presented to the City Council compared Orleans to 12 other parishes that make their budgets available online. According to the analysis, Cannizzaro's local allocation of $6.1 million came to $35,000 per murder in 2010, when there were 175 murders, the lowest of the group. (Last year's 199 murder count brings that figure to $30,000 per murder.) Jefferson Parish DA Paul Connick's office received $10.1 million in parish funding that year, or $163,000 apiece for 62 murders. — Charles Maldonado