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.

  • Pretrial services. In March 2017, the Vera Institute of Justice transferred operation of New Orleans’s pretrial services program to Orleans Criminal District Court. The program continues to be funded by the City of New Orleans with oversight from the Louisiana Supreme Court. Although all the program’s components were maintained, this transition could be a period of instability for the program. This report will track fluctuations in the number of people assessed for risk, the type and amount of bail set, and the felony pretrial population in jail.
  • Release on Recognizance (ROR) program pilot. In May 2017, criminal district court launched a pilot in one section of magistrate court to increase the use of release on recognizance (pretrial release granted without a requirement to pay bail) for defendants assessed as low- or low-moderate risk. The pilot will run for at least two months and, if successful, it will be expanded to other sections of Magistrate Court. This initiative is part of the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, a national initiative to change the way America thinks about and uses jails. It is a three-year, multi-city effort to reduce local jail populations and address racial and ethnic disparities.
  • Justice reinvestment. In June 2017, the Louisiana legislature passed a broad package of criminal justice reforms aimed at reducing the state’s prison population by 10 percent over 10 years.4 Some of the changes should have beneficial effects on the local jail population. For example, a new community corrections law that reduces the maximum probation term from five years to three years could lead to fewer jail stays for people who do not comply with their conditions of probation.