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MAXIMIZING LIMITED RESOURCES CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IN AN ERA OF AUSTERITY.

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Presentation on theme: "MAXIMIZING LIMITED RESOURCES CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IN AN ERA OF AUSTERITY."— Presentation transcript:

1 MAXIMIZING LIMITED RESOURCES CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM IN AN ERA OF AUSTERITY

2 STAKEHOLDERS The citizens of New Orleans CommonsenseNOLA Sensible Marijuana Policy for Louisiana Law Enforcement Against Prohibition Louisianans for Responsible Reform NORML NOLA

3 LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2014 The New Orleans delegation’s attempt at sensible reform, specifically in lowering penalties for simple marijuana possession, were crushed in committee. Reform legislation was supported by almost all New Orleans legislators as well as Times Picayune editorial board as well as James Gill, James Varney-editorial writers for T-P and the Advocate

4 LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2014 These sensible reforms were defeated mainly by the influence of the Louisiana DA’s Association and the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association Both these groups have obvious reasons to fight change at all costs. Namely, a high conviction rate and filling prisons for profits in the state-highlighted in detail in the award winning series Louisiana Incarcerated by Times Picayune

5 LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2014 The only successful reform was to allow a judge to review if a parolee was arrested with possession-instead of automatic revocation of parole Reviewing ordinance #28246 and making it in line with the goals of senator JP Morrell’s SB323 would re-enforce the senator’s position with data that such a move would not be detrimental to the citizens. Citizens want change in the way law enforcement is currently enforcing prohibition.

6 LEGISLATIVE SESSION 2014 The City Council can help our legislative agenda for the upcoming session Is this a controversial issue? Is the challenging any social injustice ever not controversial? New Orleans has always led the state in change. Ruby Bridges desegregating NOLA public schools in 1960

7 HOW CONTROVERSIAL IS REFORM? On July 31 and August Public Policy Polling of Raleigh,North Carolina conducted a poll of 636 Louisiana Voters 80% of those polled considered themselves either conservative or strongly conservative 94% identified with a religion 72% where white,22% African-American 26% were from Northern Louisiana,19% from Central Louisiana, 19% from Acadiana,20% from New Orleans metro area and 19% from Baton Rouge metro area 51% women and 49% men A great overall sample of Louisiana

8 HOW CONTROVERSIAL IS REFORM? The poll asked 7 questions around the marijuana reform issue and the results confirm the citizens of Louisiana want change. We believe these numbers would be much higher within the City of New Orleans Question 1 dealt with medical marijuana 65% supported and 25% opposed(2014 poll 68% support and 27% oppose) Question 2 dealt with current laws and long prison terms associated with marijuana possession 32% supported and 59% opposed (32% and 61%) Question 3 dealt with the current law that states a person can get life without parole for possession if they had previous felony 22% supported and 64% opposed(23% and 71%) Question 4 dealt with changing laws to make $500 fine and 6 months in jail highest available penalty 47% support 37% opposed

9 HOW CONTROVERSIAL IS REFORM? Question 5 dealt with changing law to no jail time and a $100 fine for those who possess under an ounce of marijuana 56% supported and 30% opposed Question 6 dealt with whether the respondee would be more or less likely to vote for a candidate if they voted to reduce penalties for possession and 49% responded they would be more likely and 32% voted less likely Question 7 asked if marijuana should be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol as Colorado and Washington have done 53% supported and 37% opposed The Louisiana State Bar Association has recently adopted supporting a policy of making all simple possession cases misdemeanors (rather than second and subsequent arrests felonies) The Louisiana Criminal Defense Association has adopted a platform for decriminalization of simple possession

10 HOW CONTROVERSIAL IS REFORM? What this poll shows is there is large scale support for reform The crosstabs show very high support for reform in the New Orleans metro area With this level of support we have to ask why does the District Attorney’s Association and the Sheriffs association so resistant to change and at what cost does this resistance effect our communities? Politically this poll reveals an opportunity for leaders to emerge in an issue that citizens want to change This poll did not even go into the cost savings that cities and the state would create by enacting legislation that Mississippi did 11 years ago The State Department of Corrections paid local Sheriffs $193,659,390 in FY to house DOC prisoners. Including $8,697,245 for felony marijuana possession

11 WHAT CAN WE DO? In 2010 the New Orleans City Council took the progressive action of creating an ordinance that would allow NOPD to write summons for simple possession rather than arresting on misdemeanor charges. Similar actions are taking place across the country as we speak. Is NOPD actually implementing this ordinance in the spirit that the Council wanted? Does NOPD realize the problems they create in community building that enforcing prohibition creates? Changing the way the city enforces prohibition will create opportunities to reach out to segments of the community that has viewed the police as adversarial for decades

12 WHAT CAN WE DO? A felony arrest can haunt an offender for the rest of their life; including losing the ability to get federal student loans or housing assistance as well as finding gainful employment. Is this fair when statistics show that whites use marijuana in equal or greater numbers but African-Americans are arrested at a 3.1 rate in Louisiana? We, as a city, have the ability to stop the flow of people into the criminal justice system by changing the priorities of the police department NOPD uses Byrnes grants from the DOJ to supplement their budget at the expense of the citizenry

13 2012 DATA Historically NOPD has arrested 2500 people a year for simple possession In 2012 for first time possession the NOPD arrested 769 people vs. 774 people summoned. Further study needs to be done on where and whom was summoned vs. arrested and if there are any trends in gender, race or location of summons vs arrests Compare the number of felony arrests have risen since the adoption of the ordinance If the felony trend is increasing, what is the cost to our community?

14 NOPD MANPOWER ISSUES The news has been rife with stories of citizens waiting inordinate response time for NOPD The OIG has just released a report on manpower issues-only 20% of NOPD available at any one time-that is only 200 officers for the entire city! We believe most citizens want what manpower we have used on violent and property crime

15 ARE THE CURRENT METHODS WORKING? Working with several former and retired NOPD officers they came up with a conservative estimate of six hours per arrest This estimate includes booking, processing evidence, report writing and possible court time Using the 2012 figures for 769 arrests for first time simple possession 4,614 manpower hours were used enforcing this aspect of prohibition. This does not include subsequent felony arrests and needs more study to see how many critical manpower hours are used enforcing prohibition Is this the best use of a force that is critically short on manpower? The Council has the ability to let the administration and NOPD know what the citizens want

16 ARE THE CURRENT METHODS WORKING? Is 115 forty hour work weeks of NOPD time worth it? Has fifty years of the current enforcement techniques lessened use/lowered crime rates? Does it benefit anyone? The officers I have worked with say if anything it creates a barrier in creating partnerships in the community i.e. officers are seen as an occupying force rather than protecting and serving the community Communities across the nation are reviewing their prohibition polices and their effectiveness in deterring crime Eventually Louisiana’s policies will effect the business climate of the city as well as tourism- will the new highly educated citizens want to stay in a city that will not fight a real injustice?

17 NEXT STEPS The Council has the ability to hold committee hearings Considering that many advocates didn’t have the opportunity to speak to the legislature this session it would give an opportunity for the people to speak on mass incarceration,decriminalization, medical marijuana and show the level of support it has among the citizenry Let city and state politicians see the widespread support reform has Eventually,the goal of these committee hearing would be to see if the ordinance met the goals of the Council. The council can hold the NOPD to that goal in budget hearings With a new Chief of NOPD,now may be the best time to reiterate the goals of ordinance

18 NEXT STEPS CommonsenseNOLA is starting a petition to amend the City of New Orleans Home Rule Charter “Bill of Rights” an aspiration to regulate the production, sale and taxation of marijuana As this is an aspiration to the City Charter it cant be challenged in court as overturning state law but a gauge of the support a tax and regulate model has in New Orleans We also hope that this campaign will further the reform efforts the legislative representatives of New Orleans have been pursuing for several years We will coordinate with other like minded groups throughout the state to do ballot initiatives in other cities that allow them

19 NEXT STEPS The Council can push to review non-marijuana arrests in metrics of solving violent and property crimes Is the DA and NOPD use simple possession as a “pad” for crime statistics? Working with other stakeholders and the Council we can review who and where citizens are being issued citations and who is being arrested to make sure that certain demographics are still not being unfairly targeted How are other cities tackling this issue?


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