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Just the Right Size: Data Helps New Orleans Rebuild its Prison

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2012
3 pages
Publication Series
This article from the April/May 2012 issue of Corrections Today examines efforts by the Orleans Parish Prison system to reduce the prison population in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.
Following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the mayor of New Orleans undertook an effort to develop more effective criminal justice policies for the city. Part of this effort included the need to determine the size and location of a new jail for the city, with the analysis being conducted within a matter of months and not years. The city worked with the JFA Institute to develop an objective forecast of the Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) system population from two perspectives: 1) a base projection to reflect the projected size of the jail population if no changes were made to current criminal justice policies; and 2) changes to the base projections based on effects from several new criminal justice policies being considered for implementation. The policies considered for implementation were a pretrial release program, reduction in the number of State prisoners housed at OPP, an increase in the use of summons instead of arrest, increased efficiency in the processing of felony cases not released in pretrial status, and a reduction in the length of stay for probation violators. Simulation of these policy reforms showed that the OPP population could be reduced by about 1,300 inmates. These findings will be used by the city administrators in the planning and decisionmaking process needed for developing a new jail for New Orleans. 3 tables, 1 figure, and 5 endnotes

Date Published: April 1, 2012