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

121417 Figures 2

As of May 2, 2017, there were 1,586 people in custody of the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO). Figure 2 demonstrates that 91 percent of people (everyone with a pre-disposition status) were not serving a sentence. Instead, they were waiting for their day in court. Those awaiting trial for felony charges or disposition of probation or parole violations represent the vast majority of the jail population. People convicted of a crime and serving a sentence in the jail were only 9 percent of the population.

The distinction between pre-disposition and sentenced populations is an important one. People who have a pre-disposition status 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.5 In contrast, people who are sentenced have been found guilty of their charges.