Municipal Bail Reform

Too many people sit in OPP simply because they are too poor to make their bond. Many are charged with low-level non-violent offenses, and many are there because they cannot afford to pay their bond. 90% of people inside OPP were awaiting their day in court–only 10% of those in OPP were convicted of a crime and serving a sentence.

As a result, OPPRC proposed a municipal bail reform ordinance. The ordinance, which City Council unanimously passed on January 12, 2017, will eliminate 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.

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.

OPPRC’s municipal bail reform ordinance was heard by the Criminal Justice Committee of City Council on September 19th, 2016 and passed unanimously by the Full Council on January 12th, 2017.

Call City Council to thank them for their leadership in passing this ordinance, and to encourage them to advance sensible reform by opposing the recommended jail expansion and instead providing mental health and substance abuse resources to prevent people from entering the criminal justice system in the first place.

For more information, check out OPPRC’s fact sheet here.

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

Bail, Fines and Fees in New Orleans: A video by the Vera Institute

Who Pays? The True Cost of Incarceration Report by the Ella Baker Center

An Appeal to Justice: Debtor’s Prisons in Louisiana, Report by the ACLU of LA

Detaining the Poor: How money bail perpetuates an endless cycle of poverty and jail time, by the Prison Policy Initiative