Study Finds “Highly Fragmented” Criminal Justice System in New Orleans


An independent study commissioned by New Orleans to study its embattled criminal justice system found “highly fragmented” and low-tech coordination among the dozen agencies under the public safety umbrella, says the New Orleans Times Picayune. The report, “A 21st Century Criminal Justice System for the City of New Orleans,” says that, “In a world of Microsoft Outlook, the New Orleans criminal justice system is functioning in a bygone era.” The antiquated organization system, the report notes, creates poor communication between agencies and scheduling conflicts that bog down the entire system. The city spent $181.3 million in 2010 on criminal justice.

The report, by Philadelphia-based consultants THE PFM Group, found the system also is plagued by inconsistent data collection and analysis. It took the police department months to revamp its accountability procedures because of lack of access to data; arrest tracking systems don’t account for court disposition; Criminal District Court could not provide the consultants with information on case disposition times because “such data does not exist in an easily obtainable way.” The Orleans Parish sheriff also couldn’t provide timely, complete basic information on inmates, and the coroner tracks thousands of annual psychiatric evaluations only on paper.

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