By Dan Fagan | The Advocate | July 6, 2019
Eighteen-year-old Theron Glover has been a busy young man as of late. Police have already arrested him several times this year, and he currently faces 160 pending charges in New Orleans Criminal District Court. Last week, police arrested Glover again for opening fire on a crowd near the corner of Fourth Street and Loyola Avenue in Central City on May 13. He allegedly wounded four victims ranging in age from 15 to 33.
You would think the courts would consider someone shooting four people as a high risk for pretrial release. But the pretrial release risk assessment tool the city uses rated Glover as a Risk Level 1. On a scale of one to five, Risk Level 1 is the lowest and recommends free release with no supervision.
The Metropolitan Crime Commission recently released a report criticizing the city’s pretrial release risk assessment tool. Along with Glover’s case, MCC criticized the risk assessment rating of two suspects arrested last month for shooting at police.
“An example of the flawed Risk Levels assigned to dangerous offenders can be found in the June 2019 arrest of two suspects from out of state that bound two employees of a CVS pharmacy at gunpoint,” the MCC report reads. “The two robbers engaged in a gunbattle with the police and wounded one officer. Each of these suspects was rated a Risk Level 1.”
“To see them rated a Risk Level 1 is, I think, a travesty and an insult to the officers that bravely protected and served the community; one of them almost lost their life,” Metropolitan Crime Commission President Rafael Goyeneche told WWL Television.
Goyeneche says the pretrial risk assessment tool the city uses consistently recommends the release of the most violent of criminals without bail.
“You synthesize it down just to murders, about 30% of the people arrested for murder were rated a Risk Level 1, “ Goyeneche told WWL Radio’s Tommy Tucker.
To which Tucker responded, “This is probably one of the most asinine things I’ve heard in a long time.”
Goyeneche says the idea behind the pretrial risk assessment tool is to address the problem of too many people in jail waiting for trial. He says it’s been sold as a money-saving solution.
“Rather than reduce crime, let’s release more of the people that’s been arrested so we can reduce the pretrial jail population,“ said Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says on any given day, 1,100 to 1,200 suspects are in pretrial custody in New Orleans. He says roughly half of them are charged with crimes of violence or weapons felonies. He says even those with only property crimes or drug offenses typically have extensive criminal histories.
“Where is the public safety factoring into this? Because it appears this instrument is being used to justify releasing more offenders from pretrial detention,” Goyeneche told WWL Radio.
The MCC report found the risk assessment tool recommended no bond for 75% of violent felony suspects, and 93% of weapons felony suspects.
“People are trying to advocate that the offenders now are the victims of the system and deserve to be released from custody until proven guilty, and this is trying to justify lower and lower bails to release offenders, “ said Goyeneche.
Goyeneche says other cities have reduced bail for defendants but unlike New Orleans, they also spend more monitoring suspects. He says in Washington D.C., officials lowered bail amounts but also spend $65 million a year for electronic monitoring. Goyeneche says New Orleans leaders have thus far been unwilling to spend money for electronic monitoring.
Glover’s case illustrates perfectly the insanity of the city’s risk assessment tool. He was accessed at Risk Level 3 during an earlier arrest this year for stealing cars. When Glover was arrested last week for opening fire on a crowd of people, injuring four of them, he was assessed lower, at Risk Level 1.
“After he shoots four people, he’s rated a Level 1? So how can there be any logic to that?” Goyeneche asked. “What I am hoping is this is a wake-up call for the public where they recognize that their rights, their public safety is being jeopardized.”