This quarter's highlights

Changes in policing and prosecution practices can have broad repercussions on the criminal justice system and impact the data presented in this report. This section presents recent events that could help explain the trends that are described in the rest of the report.

  • Increase in arrests. For years, the number of people arrested in New Orleans declined steadily.4 But in the first quarter of 2017, the trend reversed and arrests increased across the board for municipal, misdemeanor, and felony charges, perhaps in part due to the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD)’s strategic shift towards proactive policing.5 As a result of the increase in arrests, the jail population grew this quarter. This shift could ultimately undermine long-term efforts to reduce the number of people in jail.
  • State misdemeanor transfers. In December 2016, the district attorney’s office started prosecuting state misdemeanors in Orleans Criminal District Court (CDC). These cases were previously heard in municipal court, but the district attorney’s office stated they were no longer able to staff municipal court due to a decrease in funding. By increasing the volume of cases processed through CDC, this shift could increase the time it takes to process someone’s case, which could also increase how many people are released by paying a money bond and, possibly, how long they stay in jail.
  • Decreasing bed capacity. In January 2011, the New Orleans City Council authorized the use of the 400-bed temporary detention center with the stipulation that it will no longer be available for use 18 months beyond completion of the 1,438-bed jail (Phase II building). On March 15, 2017, this authorization expired, bringing New Orleans closer to a right-sized jail capacity.6 If New Orleans incarcerated people at the national average, a 1000-bed jail would be sufficient to accommodate the jail population.7