Saturday, July 12, 2008

Cops bait the homeless with cigarettes,
beer and Boston Baked Beans -- but why?

A pack of Kool cigarettes, a can of Budweiser and a box of Boston Baked Beans sat on the dashboard of an unlocked car with the windows rolled down.

Somewhere nearby two New Orleans police officers watched and waited for someone to reach into the bait car and snatch the items. They wouldn’t have to wait long, as the car was parked just one block away from a homeless encampment, where dozens of desperate, hungry and addicted people lived in a makeshift village of tents.

For stealing less than $6 in items, two homeless men were charged with simple burglary, a felony that can carry up to 12 years in prison. A month later, the men remain in jail awaiting court dates and the possibility they will spend the better part of the next decade in state prison.

At a time when homicides in New Orleans continue to rise to record numbers, many question whether a sting operation designed to entice homeless people to commit felonies is the best use of public resources.

“People are still dying left and right and yet we’re playing games with baked beans and Kool cigarettes,” said Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans. “The police officers who did this should be personally embarrassed and their superiors and the elected officials who knew about this should go to confession.”

Read the New Orleans City Business report here.


Post a Comment

<< Home