Reforming New Orleans' Criminal Justice System: The Role of Data and Research
With its criminal justice system in disarray following Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans invited the Vera Institute of Justice to examine the city’s court and jail operations. For five years, Vera has been tracking arrest-to-first-appearance time, custodial arrests versus summonses, the granting of pretrial release, and many other decision-making points. Based on analysis of these data, Vera is making policy recommendations to assist with the implementation of new procedures and to ensure performance monitoring. Like other jurisdictions, New Orleans had never collected court, jail, and other justice system data in ways that could inform policy development. Vera’s work has demonstrated to key stakeholders—including legislators and executive officials—that data capture and analysis can be critical. For example, the New Orleans Police Department used Vera’s data to monitor the time from arrest to report writing to more effectively manage individual line officers’ output. In addition, data are now at the heart of a citywide debate over the proper size of the new jail that is being planned. Learn more about these successes, the continuing challenges of replacing a jurisdiction’s existing data systems, and how costs and other institutional issues will test the “acceptance” of critical criminal justice policies in the years to come.The seminar is free but you must RSVP to gain access to the OJP building. Please allow 20 minutes to get through security.