Louisiana prosecutor Leon Cannizzaro defended jailing rape victims to force them to testify, LawNewz reports.
“If I have to put a victim of a crime in jail for eight days in order to keep the rapist off of the street for a period years, and prevent him from raping or harming someone else, I’m going to do that,” Cannizzaro said during a recent radio interview.
A reform group, Court Watch NOLA had argued it’s wrong to jail rape victims to force their testimony, because it’s counter intuitive:
“In fact, some prosecutors have taken a public stance against incarcerating victims for failure to cooperate with the prosecution or law enforcement,” they wrote. “Houston District Attorney Kimberly Ogg promised to never incarcerate a victim for failing to cooperate with the prosecution. This promise came after her predecessor incarcerated a rape victim and the victim had a mental breakdown while testifying against her aggressor in court.”
Cannizzaro’s office criticized their findings. His Assistant District Attorney Christopher Bowman called it “simply sloppy.” Bowman said the report got the number number of female victims wrong. Court Watch NOLA reportedly corrected the study.
“According to Court Watch NOLA, the DA’s Office arrested six people on material witness warrants in 2016, but only one of these warrants was issued for a victim in either a sex crime or domestic violence case,” said Bowman. “The district attorney is far more concerned with the numbers 55 and 204, which are, respectively, the number of people murdered and shot in New Orleans in 2017.”
Cannizaro said jailing rape victims is a last resort, but stood by the practice.
“They were able to find six cases in which people were in fact jailed,” he said. “In the literally thousands of cases we prosecuted.”
“It is a very, very small price to pay. We have a very, vary serious crime problem in the city of New Orleans.”
(image via Youtube screengrab)