Most people in the New Orleans jail have not been tried or convicted

As of February 2, 2017, there were 1,543 people in custody by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO). Figure 2 demonstrates that 89 percent of people (everyone in the category of “pre-disposition”) were not serving a sentence. Instead, they were waiting for their day in court. People convicted of a crime and serving a sentence in the jail were only 11 percent of the population.

The distinction between pre-disposition and sentenced populations is an important one. People who are “pre-disposition” have been charged with a crime or with violating the terms of a previous conviction. However, their guilt has not yet been established, so they are presumed innocent. In fact, many people who are detained have not been formally charged with a crime. State law allows the district attorney up to 60 days to accept the charges and institute prosecution.9 In contrast, people who are “sentenced” have been found guilty of their charges.

Figure 2