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Is the murder rate in Louisiana the equivalent of a national disaster?

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the U.S. sent in the National Guard to help local residents' safety in the face of disaster. Now, with the murder rate in some areas of Louisiana 10 times the national average, some residents (and one state lawmaker) consider the murder rate so high as to merit bringing them back.

The idea to send in the Guard came after a man in the Algiers Point of New Orleans was murdered while trying to stop a carjacking. He had jumped on the hood of a car to prevent the theft and was murdered. His death was the 20th so far just in 2012, and there were nearly 200 murders in 2011.

The Guard has deployed in Louisiana to stop violence before. After Katrina in 2005, the Louisiana National Guard stayed to stop the chaos in the streets until January of 2006. Once they left, however, the situation deteriorated again and they were forced to come back later that year. They did not leave again until 2009.

Shortly after the murder, Mayor Mitch Landrieu asked that judges raise bonds for weapons charges. He also wants to mimic a program that lowered the murder rate in other violence-plagued cities.

Not all residents are on board with the plan, however. Some locals fear that the National Guard is too militaristic for law enforcement. In addition, since the Guard has no law enforcement training, some worry that bringing in the Guard would create a greater risk that some residents would have their constitutional rights violated.

Those accused of murder face strict sentencing and need to mount a serious criminal defense to protect their rights.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Lawmaker: Bring National Guard back to murder-ravaged New Orleans," Richard Fausset, Jan. 27, 2012

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