By Rob Masson | June 19, 2019 at 5:22 PM CDT – Updated June 19 at 5:59 PM
NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) – The Metropolitan Crime Commission is revealing some startling statistics as they prepare a report on a prisoner risk assessment system that’s now drawing criticism.
The city, which operates the system says it’s assessments should not be confused with a recommendation for releases shoot out suspects Richard Sansbury and Alan Parson remain locked up, the day after a court appearance that stirred much controversy.
‘The only thing that prevented this from being a murder is the offenders couldn’t shoot straight,” said Rafael Goyeneche, with the Crime Commission.
The city’s Office of Risk Assessment gave Sansbury a risk assessment level of one, but records Fox 8 obtained, show that Sansbury had seven previous brushes with the law, in Indiana between 2010 and 2017, including an arrest in 2011 for criminal recklessness and carrying a handgun without a license. Sansbury was arrested Monday on three counts of attempted murder of a police officer, among other charges, causing many to question the value of the risk assessments.
“This group is advocating for offenders nobody’s advocating for law-abiding citizens that are jeopardized by some of these violent offenders,” said Goyeneche.
Another case yesterday involved a suspect name Tony Thomas who is charged with armed robbery resisting an officer and being a felon in possession of firearm. He too was given a risk assessment of one. But the judge gave him an $81,000 bond.
Orleans DA Leon Cannizzaro says the system is flawed and so does the Metropolitan Crime Commission.
“We are seeing only about 15% of the violent offenders are rated as serious offenders, meaning the other 85% are being advocated to be released with little or no bond or supervision,” said Goyeneche.
The program is administered by the city and criminal justice commissioner Tenisha Stevens, released this statement saying, ‘Regardless of the risk score, there’s no release recommendation for people who are charged with murder, rape or arm robbery of any kind. As for the CVS shooting suspect, Stephens went on to say that Judge Cantrelle set an appropriate bond using the information he had the rescore is only one piece of information.’
But crime watch dogs worry about a program which they say puts public safety at risk since it was designed to reduce inmate counts.
“The city received a $2 million grant from the Arnold Foundation to reduce the pre-trial population and the foundation of this effort is this risk assessment tool,” said Goyeneche.
Goyeneche is blasting the assessment program, for telling judges that defendants aren’t dangerous, when in the CVS case, they were charged with some of the most dangerous violations in the state criminal code. Goyeneche says the Metro Crime Commission will soon be releasing it’s report on the risk assessment program.