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

On August 2, 2017, snapshot data provided by the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) showed that there were 1,554 people detained in the New Orleans jail. Figure 2 demonstrates that 94 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 6 percent of the population.

The distinction between pre-disposition and sentenced populations is an important one. People who are in pre-disposition status have been charged with a crime or with violating the terms of a previous sentence. 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 detention for up to 60 days before the district attorney decides whether to institute prosecution.7 In contrast, people who are sentenced have been found guilty of their charges.

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