Municipal bail reform ordinance

Too many people sit in jail simply because they are too poor to make their bond.

 

Goal

Eliminate money bail

Key players

The Bail Bond Industry
Criminal Court Judges
City Council

Status

Reform measures enacted

 

Summary

The ordinance—proposed by OPPRC and passed unanimously by City Council on January 12, 2017—eliminates bail and bond for most municipal offenses. Too many people are incarcerated for low-level, non-violent offenses just because they are too poor to pay their bond and buy their freedom.

Background

Many in OPP are charged with low-level nonviolent offenses, and many are there because they cannot afford to pay their bond. 90% of people inside OPP are awaiting their day in court—only 10% are convicted of a crime and serving a sentence.

Incarcerating the poor has serious, destabilizing effects on people’s lives. Even one day in jail can have serious effects on people’s lives—people can lose their jobs, their homes, and their kids, while they await trial for a crime they are, by law, innocent of until they are proven guilty.

Incarcerating people because they are poor does not keep us safer–and it is unconstitutional.

 
 

What we’ve accomplished:

 

1.

Story Circle Workshop held for Municipal Bail Hearing. This was a space for people who have been impacted by municipal bail to learn about the ordinance, share their story, give feedback to others, and prepare to tell City Council why this ordinance is important. September 12, 2016

 

2.

Councilmember Guidry introduced an ordinance that would eliminate money bail and pretrial detention for most municipal offenses.  The ordinance, which was first proposed by OPPRC, was first heard at the following Criminal Justice Committee meeting. September 17, 2016

 

3.

City Council unanimously passed OPPRC’s municipal bail reform ordinance, eliminating money bail for most city charges. January 12, 2017

 

 
 
Commercial bail bond companies dominate the pretrial release systems of only two nations, the United States and the Philippines.
— The New York Times
 
 

 

Further Reading

For more information about debtors prisons and the costs of incarcerating the poor in New Orleans and nationally, check out the following: