This quarter's highlights

Shifts in policing strategies can have broad repercussions on the criminal justice system, reflected in 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.

  • Arrest Increases: In late June 2017, the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) led multi-agency sweeps dubbed “Operation NOLA Clean Up.” The operation targeted drug offenses, weapons possession, and open arrest warrants. In July 2017, NOPD announced that 81 people were arrested as a result of the operation.4 The arrest increases were also part of a broader, strategic effort by NOPD to be more proactive in their policing by increasing officer presence in certain neighborhoods and communities.5
  • Increase in Releases on Recognizance: This quarter, an initiative to increase the use of release on recognizance (“ROR,” pretrial release granted without a requirement to pay money bail) for defendants assessed as low or low-moderate risk was expanded in magistrate court. The initiative was first piloted last quarter in one section of magistrate court, and an analysis of the pilot’s outcomes showed that ROR rates doubled for eligible defendants, while average bail amounts decreased for defendants who were statutorily ineligible for RORs but assessed as low or low-moderate risk. The average length of stay for defendants eligible for the pilot also decreased significantly, from an average of 12 days in jail to less than three days. In October 2017, the criminal district court judges approved an expansion to all other magistrate sections except for M1 (magistrate judge).

Bookings for felony arrests rose from 1,490 in the second quarter of 2017, to 1,912 this quarter. Bookings for misdemeanor arrests also increased, from 950 to 1,186. If compared to the third quarter of 2016, there was a 55 percent increase (1,204) in felony arrest bookings and 57 percent increase (689) in misdemeanor arrest bookings.6 The combined efforts of NOPD and other agencies, along with the increased focus on arrests resulted in an overall increase of the jail population.