As reported today by The Times-Picayune (LA):
Crime thrives under 60-day rule
Blown deadline frees hundreds of suspects
Monday, February 12, 2007
By Gwen Filosa
On recent FBI wiretaps, agents can hear criminal suspects muttering about "misdemeanor murders," code for doing hardly any time at all for the worst crime on the books.
On street corners and in the grungy holding tanks at parish prison, they have another name for it: "701," shorthand for Article 701 of the Louisiana Code of Criminal Procedure. It states that no one can be held longer than 60 days on a felony arrest without an indictment.
Sometimes a 701 release merely eliminates a bond posted by a suspect in order to remain at liberty pending a trial. But in other cases, the 701 springs a murder suspect from jail because prosecutors have failed to meet the 60-day deadline, and that's been happening with astonishing frequency -- a tenfold increase -- in the widely criticized New Orleans criminal justice system since Hurricane Katrina.
The 701 list for 2005 includes Dquane Morgan, 20, booked with the second-degree murder of Ryan Crooks, 17, shot down in a hallway at the St. Bernard public housing complex June 2, 2005.
Three days later, Morgan was arrested. Sixty days after that, he walked free on a 701 release, leaving the case cold and now closed. The reason, prosecutors noted for the record, was that they never received a police report within the 60-day period. That's the same reason the other seven murder cases from the same seven-month stretch in 2005 tanked.
Jump to July 2006. The two men accused of trying to kill police officer Kevin Thomas in Algiers during a post-Katrina looting spree were released from jail after almost 10 months in jail. Prosecutors say they knew about the case all along but couldn't make a case given the deficiencies of the post-Katrina era.
But by the time District Attorney Eddie Jordan's office finally charged Vincent Walker, 44, and Jimil Joyner, 24, with attempted first-degree murder -- a week ago -- both suspects were on the loose.
Prosecutors may refile charges against 701'd suspects if they get complete police reports, but often a 701 amounts to the writing on the wall, and cases fall by the wayside.
Conceived as insurance against lethargic prosecutors and detention without due process, a 701 can also be a get-out-of-jail-free card for criminals -- murderers included. And never has the city seen so many of them as in the post-Katrina era...
The full story can be found at; http://www.nola.com/news/t-p/frontpage/index.ssf?/base/news-7/11712631133140.xml&coll=1
- Janq will not be stepping foot in the state of Louisiana anytime soon
"...perennial murder suspect Garelle Smith was out on the streets of New Orleans in December, said Craig Famularo, the district attorney's chief of homicide division. Smith, 25, was arrested on suspicion of gunning down rapper Soulja Slim, aka James Tapp, in 2003, but was sprung on a 701 release when no charges had been brought within 60 days. Both of Smith's prior murder raps disintegrated because witnesses wouldn't come forward...Smith, who escaped another murder case in 2004, was arrested last month in the murder of 24-year-old Mandell Duplessis, gunned down Aug. 4 outside a FEMA trailer." - Gwen Filosa, The Times-Picayune