THE NEW ORLEANS TASK FORCE
New Orleans Power Point Presentation on Diversion, National Pretrial Diversion Symposium
Track 1 Evaluation
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
Although the District Attorney’s Office maintained a functional diversion program prior to the Task Force’s involvement, the Task Force believed that with additional resources, an even more effective diversion program could be created, so more arrestees could be diverted out of the traditional criminal justice system. To that end, the Task Force worked closely with the District Attorney’s Office to try and develop a program that serves arrestees charged with non-violent property crimes and address the standards that made completion of the original diversion program difficult for some participants.
The Task Force and the District Attorney’s Office have enhanced and expanded the existing District Attorney’s Diversion Program by working with the key stakeholders to implement a targeted, more rapid diversionary option for offenders charged with low-level property crimes. The Track 1 diversion program diminishes the obstacles to completion of the traditional diversion program for low-risk offenders through shorter program length, less punitive accountability, expanded eligible offenses, and less rigorous check-in requirements. By expanding the alternatives of the diversion program, the Task Force intended to provide more opportunities for racial minorities, who are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system, to avoid the life-altering first felony conviction.
We are proud to report that the New Orleans Task Force successfully completed their local reform efforts in Diversion. We have concluded our independent evaluation of our newly implemented Diversion Track I program in New Orleans.
Final Evaluation Findings:
The New Orleans Task Force has created and printed a brochure that clearly states Diversion Track I's program eligibility criteria and program requirements. The Project translated the brochure into Spanish to accommodate the growing Hispanic population.
To view this brochure please click here. To see the Memorandum of Understanding signed by the Task Force with the specifics of the Diversion program, click here.
A special thanks to Bertha Astorga, an American University Law Student and Criminal Justice Section Spring Intern, who translated the brochure into Spanish for the Task Force here.
The New Orleans Task Force was chosen to continue their reform efforts and joined the project for a second term to address additional diversion reform but at the municipal level. To learn about our current efforts in the implementation of a Prostitution Diversion Program in New Orleans, Crossroads Diversion click HERE.
Click here for additional diversion resources.
The New Orleans Task Force At Work
RJIP October Annual Meeting
On October 10, 2014, RJIP held their annual meeting to discuss where we are and our future plans for reform. To view the New Orleans presentation during the meeting, click here.
July 2014, the Task Force held a luncheon for key stakeholders to introduce the new Crossroads Diversion Program at the Louisiana State Bar.
January 29, 2014, Jee Park of the New Orleans Task Force participated in the RJIP's presentation at BJA's Enrichment Day. For the full presentation, click here.
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 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.
On February of 2011, the Task Force held a luncheon and training entitled, Pretrial Diversion: Benefits to the Local Criminal Justice Systems, at the InterContinental Hotel in New Orleans Louisiana. This workshop brought together practitioners and featured a diversion panel (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) and presentation presented by Spurgeon Kennedy. National experts on pretrial diversion, the aforementioned panelists discussed characteristics of a good diversion program and how diversion programs benefit the greater community by reducing recidivism, local jail populations and increasing judicial efficiency. At the conclusion of the luncheon, the Task Force discussed its goal of collaborating with other criminal justice stakeholders to expand and enhance the existing District Attorney’s diversion program to serve a population currently not served by the program.
See pictures and materials from the Diversion Workshop.
Following the implementation of the Track 1 Diversion Program, two new diversion programs were initiated: Adult Diversion Post Plea and Adult Misdemeanor Diversion. By offering two additional diversion programs, Orleans Parish is not only recognizing the impact that diversion programs can have on both communities and individuals, but they are showing that RJIP efforts can spark reform beyond the scope of the task force’s initial work.
The Adult Misdemeanor Diversion Program supplements the existing Track 1 and Track 2 Diversion Programs, targeting those charged with: possession of marijuana (first offense); possession of paraphernalia; simple battery; criminal damage; assault; criminal mischief; criminal trespass; theft; shoplifting; possession of stolen property; gambling; or disturbing the peace (non-domestic violence). Upon successful completion of all program requirements, including sixty days of negative drug screens, enrollment in an academic or vocational program or gainful, consistent employment, attendance at all appointments, maintenance of stable living arrangements, payment of the program fee and any restitution associated with the charges, and meeting all treatment goals set, the case will be dismissed and the participant will be eligible to apply for expungement of their relevant arrest. For a participant brochure, please click here.
The Adult Diversion Post Plea Program differs from Track 1, Track 2, and the Adult Misdemeanor Diversion Program in that individuals must first enter a guilty plea for their charges. The sentencing for these charges is deferred and will not occur unless the participant fails to comply with program requirements, fails to successfully complete the program, or withdraws from the program. Upon completion of the program, individuals may be permitted to withdraw their guilty plea and the case may be dismissed. Due to the fact that participants are all facing felony charges, this program allows highly motivated individuals an opportunity to potentially avoid the negative consequences of felony convictions, such as inability to obtain a professional license, ineligibility for public housing or student financial aid, and difficulty obtaining employment. For a participant brochure, please click here.
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