People who pose little risk are held in the New Orleans jail

121417 Figures 3

Through the use of a research-based tool, people arrested and accused of a felony are assessed for risk of failing to appear in court and of being re-arrested if released. Detention of defendants who are found to present low and low-moderate risk should be the carefully limited exception rather than the rule.6

Out of the 388 people in jail on May 2, 2017, who were assessed for risk and given a risk score, 163 (or roughly 42 percent) were found to present a low or low-moderate risk for re-arrest and failure to appear in court. This cohort only represents roughly 10 percent of the 1,586 people detained in jail, most of whom were held on a financial bail. While the remaining people held in jail may not have a risk score, it is probable that some portion of this group presents a low risk and is eligible for pretrial release. Overall, this suggests there is an opportunity to safely reduce the jail population by making release decisions based on risk, rather than a person’s ability to pay a money bond.