90% of domestic violence cases dropped in Orleans Parish


Photo illustration by Michael Bauer. Photo credit: Michael Bauer

Sofia Mongillo

More than 90% of domestic violence cases are dropped by prosecutors in Orleans Parish according to a report presented to New Orleans City Council last month.

The conviction rate for cases that do make it through court is only 6%, but Orleans Parish District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro Jr. said in a press release that the prosecution of domestic violence cases relies almost entirely upon the willingness of the victim to cooperate.

“That is reality, and it is not ‘victim-blaming’ to state that fact,” Cannizzaro said.

The report says about half of dropped charges were due to victims refusing to prosecute the case, while another 37% were dropped because they were not considered suitable for prosecution.

Professor of Criminology and Justice Rae Taylor., affirmed that victims are often unwilling to cooperate but said that there are usually good reasons behind this.

“If you were a survivor of domestic violence or sexual assault and you saw this statistic about your district attorney’s office, would you call the police and put yourself through that whole system?” Taylor said.

Another factor that contributes to victims’ unwillingness to cooperate is victim-shaming, according to Director of the Women’s Resource Center Patricia Boyett.

“We rarely do this with other crimes,” Boyett said. “If someone gets robbed, you don’t tell them it’s their fault.”

Due to misunderstanding regarding victim behavior, cases get dropped because there isn’t enough evidence or interest in the case, Taylor said.

“It is not taken as seriously as other crimes; they’ll take drug crimes more seriously,” she said. “There is no legal recourse and often survivors are left having to answer to their abuser on why police were asking questions.”

According to co-chair of the women’s studies minor Danielle Slakoff, victims stay in these relationships for legitimate reasons, including financial stability or safety for their children, Slakoff said.

“It can take a really long time for someone to leave and even longer for somebody to leave successfully and not be in complete fear for their life every single day,” she said.

Since high school and college students are at high risk of being in abusive relationships due to the transitions happening in their lives, Slakoff wants to educate students on domestic abuse.

“What I tell my students a lot is to just believe someone when they tell you their story, and don’t ever put any blame on them for what happened,” she said.


AP News contributed to this report.