The purpose of a jail

Jails are designed to hold people who have been arrested and cannot safely wait for their day in court at home, in their community. Unlike prisons, jails are designed to house people short-term. The City of New Orleans pays for the operation of the jail with taxpayers’ dollars; it is a core civic responsibility to ensure that we detain people only when necessary:

Appropriate detention

Detention for a person accused of a crime is only appropriate if he or she is likely to break the law in the future or to miss court dates. Before trial, release should be the norm and detention the limited exception.

Measuring risk  

The City of New Orleans, through New Orleans Pretrial Services, uses a research-based tool to measure the risk felony arrestees pose of being re-arrested or failing to appear in court. Research has identified several factors that predict these risks, such as a person’s criminal conviction history, past missed court dates, or lack of community ties. However, research found that the charge used at the time of arrest is not an accurate predictor of risk.