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Gonzales offers more prosecutors, police to fight New Orleans crime post-Katrina

[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile; JURIST news archive] has said that he will divert additional resources [prepared remarks] to New Orleans to address the city's high crime rates following the Hurricane Katrina disaster [JURIST news archive]. The additional resources include ten temporary prosecutors to handle gun, drug and immigration cases, nine permanent lawyers to assist in fraud and violent crime cases, and four agents from the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) [official website] and the US Marshalls Service [official website] to locate violent criminals. New Orleans will also begin a Violent Crime Initiative [program overview], allowing the FBI and state and local police to compile information and develop a list of violent offenders and the ATF will establish a 24-hour hotline where citizens can report the possession of illegal firearms.

Violent crime in New Orleans has increased dramatically over the last few months. Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco [official profile] deployed National Guard Troops [CBS/AP report] this summer following the shooting deaths of five teenagers. Earlier this month, New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin announced an overhaul of the city's criminal justice system [JURIST report], saying that prosecutors from a neighboring parish in Louisiana have volunteered to help the New Orleans district attorney's office. The Louisiana State Bar Association [group website] is also providing pro bono representation [court order, PDF] for indigent defendants and will pay for a system to track and organize cases. The New Orleans Times Picayune has local coverage.

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