NEW ORLEANS TASK FORCE
Current Events in Louisiana
3 Indicted in New Orleans Bond Scheme, (Nola.com, June 24, 2011)
Sex Crimes In New Orleans, Separate And Unequal
Five New Orleans Police Plead Not Guilty in Katrina Death (Reuters, Nov. 10, 2010)
Credibility of Former NOPD Officer Cited in Convict’s Push for New Trial (Times-Picayune, Nov. 5, 2010)
Thousands Arrested Needlessly on Warrants, Serpas Makes Pledge to End Policy (Fox 8, Nov. 8, 2010)
Public Lashes Out At Jail During Week’s First Public Hearing (Fox 8, Nov. 10, 2010)
Exclusive: DOJ to Conduct Assessment of New Orleans Police (MainJustice.com, May 14, 2010)
CNN: Former New Orleans Police Officer gets 8 years for Katrina Shooting
NOLA.com: Former NOPD investigator accuses colleague of lying during trial over Katrina killing
A Big Victory For New Orleans
DA Says New Orleans Criminal Justice System Stronger Every Day
3 Indicted in New Orleans Bond Scheme
The New Orleans Task Force
The Task Force has printed a brochure that clearly states the current diversion program’s eligibility criteria and program requirements and translated the brochure into Spanish to accommodate the growing Hispanic population. Whereas the track 2 diversion program is two-years in length and focuses on drug and substance abuse treatment, the alternative program (track 1) is much shorter in length, 9 months, and emphasizes community service and obtaining a G.E.D. The task force has worked closely with the Director of Social Services at the District Attorney’s Office to develop a set of eligibility criteria and program requirements for the alternative program and currently track 1 has 20 participants. The task force is working on data collection and administration of the new program.
A special thanks to Bertha Astorga, an American University Law Student and Criminal Justice Section Spring Intern, who quickly and diligently translated the brochure into Spanish for the Task Force.
Choosing their reform: The New Orleans, Louisiana Task Force has decided to focus on its local diversion program. Currently the New Orleans’ diversion program is run by the New Orleans District Attorney’s Office. The NOLA task force is seeking to either improve upon this existing diversion program or create a supplemental program. They are in the process of obtaining data on the current diversion program, and have just recently retained Spurgeon Kennedy, a national expert in diversion programming and pretrial release, to act as a consultant to assist the Task Force in analyzing data from the diversion program currently operated and administered by the District Attorney's Office. Through this data analysis and site visits to other jurisdictions to observe different ways diversion may be administered, the Task Force will work to formulate policy reforms. Because New Orleans (and the population in the local criminal justice system) is 70-80% African American, they are focusing less on racial disparity and more on reducing the racial impact of discretionary decisions in the criminal justice system.
Click here for more information on diversion.
The New Orleans Task Force At Work
Project Update On Friday, February 3rd 2012, the Criminal Justice Section held a panel on diversion entitled, "Diversion: Best Practices to Ensure Fairness, Conserve Public Funds, and Enhance Public Safety" at the 2012 Annual Midyear meeting. Jee Park, the New Orleans Task Force Facilitator, served as a panelist. For more information, please visit the following website (Click Here).
On Friday April 29, 2011 the ABA Racial Justice Improvement Project took part in the National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts Annual Meeting in New Orleans, LA for a Panel Discussion on reforms to reduce or eliminate the disparity in the criminal justice system. Jee Park, New Orleans Racial Justice Improvement Project Facilitator and Special Litigation Counsel, New Orleans Public Defender and Norris Henderson, Executive Director, V.O.T.E. and Task Force Community Representative joined Project Staff in discussing the Project's status in New Orleans and ways to promote the goal of bias-free decision making. Click Here for the video.
The New Orleans Task Force also hosted a Diversion Workshop on February 11th 2011 at the InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans Louisiana. This workshop brought together practitioners from three jurisdictions, and featured a diversion panel and presentation presented by Mr. Kennedy. Panelists included Barbara Darbey from Rochester, New York; Anna Roberts Smith from Jessamine County, Kentucky; and Karen Galloway from the Fifth Judicial Circuit, South Carolina.
See more pictures and materials from the Diversion Workshop.
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE REPORT CRITICIZES NEW ORLEANS POLICE, VOWS TO REFORM DEPARTMENT
After a comprehensive 10-month investigation by the Division of Civil Rights, the Department of Justice announced that the New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) has systematically violated the Constitution as well as federal law. In its report, the Department concludes that officers engaged in acts of misconduct including using excessive force, illegally arresting people, and unfairly targeting black and gay residents.
The Department of Justice also alleges that the NOPD engaged in racial profiling against the city’s black majority. For example, according to the report, from January 2009 to May 2010, officers fired their weapons at 27 people, all of whom were African-American.
Justice officials vowed to work with the city to reform the police department. “The problems facing the New Orleans Police Department are serious, wide-ranging, systemic, and deeply rooted in the culture of the department,” said Thomas E. Perez, assistant attorney general for the Division of Civil Rights, which led the investigation. Read additional coverage of the report in The Washington Post.
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