NEW ORLEANS TASK FORCE
The New Orleans Task Force (NTF) is working with the District Attorney’s Office and Orleans Parish Municipal Court to introduce a prostitution diversion program. Through their previous work with RJIP, the NTF has identified diversionary programming as an area that can provide immediate and measurable benefits to the current criminal justice system in New Orleans, while having a profound racial impact by ensuring more people of color are diverted from the system. Specifically, the New Orleans Task Force hopes to provide alternatives to incarceration that can break the cycle of incarceration for sex-workers in New Orleans and simultaneously ease the burgeoning caseloads of their courts and jails.
NTF’s objectives are to create and implement a successful prostitution diversion program that can provide meaningful counseling and rehabilitative services to program participants. New Orleans Municipal Court sees more arrestees than any other court in the city; despite this, there is no formalized diversion program in Municipal Court, primarily due to a lack of resources. NTF plans to address this by partnering with a new community stakeholder, Women With a Vision, whose mission statement is to “improve the lives of marginalized women, their families, and communities by addressing the social conditions that hinder their health and well-being” accomplished via “relentless advocacy, health education, supportive services, and community-based participatory research.” By partnering with Women With a Vision (WWAV), the NTF hopes to provide services and resources that will reduce recidivism and provide stability in the lives of the participants in the program.
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 New Orleans' presentation during the meeting click here.
Diversity Launch Luncheon
On July 23, 2014, the New Orleans Task Force will host a luncheon at the Louisiana State Bar Association to discuss the implementation and creation of the Crossroads Diversion Program with community leaders, elected officials, and criminal justice stakeholders. Those interested in attending should click here to view the invitation.
Pilot Program Launch!
On June 2, 2014, The New Orleans Task Force engaged their first participant for intake in their new diversion program, the Crossroads Diversion Program! She was released on her own recognizance to report to Women With a Vision for Intake. This pilot program will likely accept 25 to 25 participants dependent upon the current capacity to provide services and monitoring.
Memorandum of Understanding
The Task Force has finalized a Memorandum of Understanding. This will serve as an agreement between members of the New Orleans RJIP Task Force, New Orleans Municipal Court, Orleans Parish District Attorney's Office, New Orleans City Attorney's Office, Orleans Public Defenders and Women With a Vision in creation of the Crossroads Diversion Program.
Trauma Awareness Training
Pam Alders, Director of the Regional Training Institute, conducted a Trauma Awareness Training at the Family Justice Center (FJC) in New Orleans. In attendance were members of Judge Charbonnet's courtroom, the District Attorney's Office, the City Attorney's Office, the New Orleans Police Department, and the Public Defender's Office; totaling approximately 25 participants. To view the Powerpoint from the training, click here.
The New Orleans Task Force recently received funding from the BJA's National Training and Technical Assistance Center (NTTAC).
As the New Orleans Racial Justice Improvement Project Task Force has been working to develop a prostitution diversion program in New Orleans Municipal Court, the Task Force was interested in learning more about the Prostitution Diversion Program in New York City.
Accordingly, on March 20-21, 2014, the task force took went to NYC for a site visit. During the visit, Task Force members met face-to-face with the director of the program, case managers who directly work with diversion participants, community partners who provide health, educational, employment and counseling services, prosecutors and public defenders who support the program through referrals, and judges who oversee the participants’ compliance. The task force acquainted themselves with the Center for Court Innovation's community court model, engaged with its participants, judge, service providers, public defender and assistant district attorney.
When compared to other programs, the Task Force believes the New York Prostitution Diversion Program would best meet the needs of the target population in New Orleans, and important features of the program can be effectively duplicated in New Orleans. For more information, please click here and here.
The National Association for Court Management Guide to Addressing Human Trafficking in the State Courts (HT Guide), By John A Martin, provides state court practitioners a comprehensive resource for:
The Diversion program run by the RJIP was featured in a piece by the Vera Institute of Justice and The Atlantic: