New Orleans locking up fewer people, but still needs to reduce incarceration

 

 

In a guest column written recently for NOLA.com Mitch Landrieu writes that despite major progress in the past six years, New Orleans remains the most incarcerated city in the most incarcerated state in the most incarcerated country in the world.

 

Prior to Katrina, the local jail population was about 7,000. When Landrieu entered office in 2010, it was down to 3,400. Today, we have reformed our criminal justice system to reduce the local jail population even further to about 1,600, but there is still much more work to be done.  We need to change the way that people use and think about jails.

In many ways we’re actually just getting started (NOLA.com).

 

Our recent efforts have established risk assessment and supervision for pre-trial defendants so that they can wait for their next court date from the community. We also have instructed police to issue summonses in lieu of arrest for minor offenses and for out of city traffic warrants to make headway in keeping individuals out of the system altogether (NOLA.com).

 

The number of people who are arrested and booked into the jail only because of an outstanding warrant from another parish, typically for traffic infractions, has decreased. And the Jail Population Management Subcommittee Landrieu created under the New Orleans Criminal Justice Council collaborates to implement measures that are already showing results. Last fall, for example, Criminal District Court authorized a range of non-detention sanctions, such as community service, to address probation violations (NOLA.com).

 

The good news is that not only does the city have an ambitious plan to reduce our jail population substantially over the course of the next three years, but also last month, the MacArthur Foundation announced the selection of 11 jurisdictions nationwide that will be awarded funds through the Safety & Justice Challenge competition to implement our strategies. New Orleans received a $1.5 million grant to put our plan into action. This award underscores the importance of ongoing jail population management and commitment from nationally-recognized experts to help our plan be successful (NOLA.com).

 

The support of the MacArthur Foundation and continued collaboration among our justice agencies and community leaders will propel New Orleans toward better and smarter practices across the whole of the criminal justice system. And that will lead to the right people being incarcerated for the right amount of time without compromising public safety.

 

A smaller jail will in fact be a safer jail and helps to create a safer city.

 

See the full article here.

 

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