#JailSupport Update - Louisiana Pre-Trial Diversion Classes for #OccupyTheStage #ONOLA
Occupy NOLA Legal Team has finally heard back from Baton Rouge about Justin’s Occupy Arrest charges. On June 20 he was arrested in New Orleans on a warrant Baton Rouge had issued back in March. The charges are disturbing the peace and resisting an officer (not resisting arrest as I initially thought).
On March 12, Justin was making a speech when an officer approached him and attempted to silence him. He continued exercising his First Amendment rights and was then approached by several officers who attempted to grab him from behind.
However, he slipped out of his jacket and left the steps of the State Capitol.
After he departed, Officer Holman (badge # 6071) said on camera that Justin was no longer disturbing the peace and would not be arrested. (see min 1:40 here: http://youtu.be/86OSs6YmM8s)
Now, Baton Rouge has apparently suggested that Justin, founding member of Occupy The Stage, attend Louisiana Pre-Trial Diversion classes for a year.
According to the City of Baton Rouge/Parish of East Baton Rouge Parish Attorney, this would serve some purpose other than to force an employed master carpenter who lives in New Orleans to travel to Baton Rouge for "regular counseling meetings with his pretrial officer. In addition to attending an educational class, each participant may be required to perform community service at public or private non-profit agencies in Baton Rouge."
The purpose of pretrial diversion is to intervene in the normal judicial process to divert first offenders from the Baton Rouge City Court System. This diversion results in benefits to the participant, the community, the prosecutor, the courts, and the jails in the following ways:
(1) The participants benefits by having the charges against him dismissed and his record expunged after successful completion of the program.
(2) The community benefits by a reduction in the rate of recidivism (return to crime).
(3) The prosecutor and the court benefit by saving time and money due to a reduction in the number of cases processed.
(4) The jails, benefit by a reduced inmate population, thus providing more jail space for the more serious and habitual offenders.
Justin does not even reside in Baton Rouge and has no intention of traveling to Baton Rouge except to appear in court, so participating in this “diversion” would not benefit the Baton Rouge community.
The Parish Attorneys website’s list of offenses that require counseling include “domestic violence, physical violence, and misdemeanor theft.” I see no evidence as to how this class would reduce in the rate of recidivism for charge stemming from civil disobedience or benefit the participant, the court, or the community. Requiring him to travel to Baton Rouge would only exhaust an employed activist with no prior criminal record.