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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cannizzaro: Orleans Parish DA may be most underfunded in state

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 4:07 PM

Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro gave one of this season's more riveting City Council presentations today (which, I'll admit, I did not attend in person. I watched it from my comfortable cubicle.), saying that in light of new health insurance costs and the loss of $800,000 in grant funding, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's recommendation to keep the office's allocation static at $6.16 million is tantamount to a $1.2 cut.

Cannizzaro highlighted the progress the office has made in the past few years. From 2008 to 2010, he said, showing statistics gathered by the Metropolitan Crime Commission, New Orleans has seen a 31 percent increase in felony cases accepted for prosecution, a 65 percent increase in felony convictions and a 211 percent increase in violent felony convictions. The mayor's budget — which according to the mayor was designed to protect public safety spending — could force the DA to replace seasoned attorneys with novices right out of law school, jeopardizing that progress.

He went on to say that, measured by several metrics, the Orleans Parish DA is already "one of — if not the most — underfunded district attorney's offices in the state of Louisiana."

(More after the jump)

First by "warrants," which are not warrants in the sense you usually see associated with the District Attorneys Office. In this context, they represent the funding equalization formula for state-funded programs and salaries in district attorney offices.

From Cannizzaro's presentation: "Warrants are allocated by the Louisiana Legislature on the basis of population, criminal activity, and docket size of the respective jurisdictions."

Orleans is an 83-warrant Parish. Here, from the presentation slides, is how it compares to 8 other local jurisdictions whose budgets and warrant numbers were available online:


The median per-warrant local government allocation for those nine parishes is $141,000. The mean is $153,000, both around double what the Orleans DA gets.

Then, funding as an allocation of a total municipal operating budget, which requires less explanation, compared to 14 other jurisdictions whose budgets were available online:


Per 2010 murder (compared to 12 that posted budgets online and also reported at least one 2010 murder):


And finally, per violent crime (compared to 13 that posted budgets online and also reported at least one violent crime in 2010):


Download the full DA budget presentation (64 page PDF):


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