Criminal Justice and Juvenile Justice

Criminal Justice is an intertwining of agencies and processes which seek to achieve control of crime, minimization of crime, and the imposition of penalties for the commission of crimes. There are various levels of criminal justice systems in the United States, including a state level, a federal level, and a local level.

Juvenile Justice is the area of criminal law applicable to persons not old enough to be held responsible for criminal acts. In most states, the age for criminal culpability is set at 18 years. Juvenile law is mainly governed by state law and most states have enacted a juvenile code. 


Criminal Justice Equity Overview


Violent Crime Statistics

  • The murder rate in New Orleans has dropped 27% between 2011 and 2018.

  • Armed robbery, shooting, and simple robbery are among violent crimes that have fluctuated over the past seven years.

  • Aggravated assault, up 46% and rape, up 67% have the highest increases among person crimes.

  • Among property crime, auto theft is up 19%.

  • The crime rate in the city has increased 18% across person and property crimes.


Incarceration Rates

  • Incarceration rates in Orleans Parish have dropped from 1,251 per 100,000 population to 912 per 100,000 between 2004 and 2011, yet remained far above the U.S. average of 236 per 100,000 population.

  • 1 in 7 African American males in New Orleans was supervised by the criminal justice system in 2014.

  • 1 in 14 African American males in New Orleans was incarcerated in 2014.

  • Louisiana was once the country’s prison capital with 1 in 86 adult state residents serving time in 2012.


Judicial Efficiency

  • According to findings from a report produced by the Bureau of Governmental Research, New Orleans has about 24% more judges than needed.

  • One weakness of the judicial workload formula used to draw this conclusion is that it is based on self-reported estimates of the time it takes to handle different types of cases as well as the small number of case types used in the formula (BGR found the average number of case types was 25).

  • Opponents of the recommendation to reduce judge seats in New Orleans indicate that the formula doesn’t account for the context and complexity of the cases heard by judges in New Orleans.

  • Reduction of judge seats in New Orleans could also result in longer wait times for trials. Currently the court median for felony case processing times is 138 days and ranges from 83 days to 248 days.


NOPD Consent Decree

  • Findings from a 2011 investigation unveiled massive civil rights violations, discriminatory policing, gender-biased policing, and national origin discrimination.

  • The federal investigation also revealed widespread police misconduct, deficiencies in field supervision, staffing and training, shortcomings in recruitment and a host of other practices leading to unconstitutional conduct by officers.

  • In 2012, the Landrieu administration entered into a consent decree with the Department of Justice to enact sweeping reforms within the New Orleans Police Department.

  • The NOPD consent decree is estimated to cost the city approximately $55 million to implement over five years.


Orleans Parish Prison Consent Decree

  • Cited for its reputation for inmate violence, inmate escapes and inmate deaths and poor mental health care, the Orleans Parish Prison entered into a federal consent decree to implement reforms that improve conditions and practices at the Orleans Parish Prison.

  • The consent decree is slated to cost $45 million over the course of two years.

  • Among the changes to the Orleans Parish Prison is its new $145 million, 1438-bed facility.


Juvenile Justice Equity Overview


School-to-Prison Pipeline

  • The school-to-prison pipeline describes the ways in which schools’ policies, practices
    and culture push out and exclude students, funneling them into the criminal justice system.

  • These practices disproportionately target African American and Hispanic youth.

  • In New Orleans, out-of-school suspension rates were as high as 60% at some schools in 2011 and were about 15% on average.


Impact of School Disciplinary Actions by Gender and Race

  • Statewide Data (2017)  reports that African American students are 3.25 times more likely to
    be expelled and 7.8 times more likely to be suspended.

  • While male students make up 51% of the state’s total student population, they account for 66% of the student population in alternative programs.

  • 80% of students suspended or expelled violated one of the following discipline infractions: willful disobedience; instigates/participates in fights; disturbs the school and violates the rules; treats authority with disrespect; leaves school premises; uses profane and/or obscene language; exhibits injurious conduct; unauthorized use of technology; and is habitually tardy and/or absent.

  • The majority of the more than 18,000 students suspended or expelled were sent to an alternative school or program rather than addressing the issue at the initial school. Students spend an average of 20 days for suspension and 54 days for expulsion in alternative settings.

  • 4% of alternative education students earn a diploma.


New Orleans Police and Youth 

  • In 2016, there were 778 total youth arrests and 499 youth arrests for minor offenses. 

  • Police contact with youth resulted in 344 verbal warnings, 123 citations, and 565 no actions.

  • Officers arrested 355 youth under 17 years of age at the time of the incident. 248 of those youth were shared with an offense that would make them eligible for a juvenile warning notice.

  • Passed into law in 2017, The Policing Alternatives for Youth (PAY) Ordinance is an attempt to address the racial disparity in the over-policing of youth in New Orleans. NOPD officers now have the discretion to issue a warning or summons to youth, depending on the level of offense and prior history of offenses. This alternative can prevent young people from
    being arrested. 

  • Eligible offenses for warning as a result of the PAY Ordinance are: criminal mischief; criminal trespass; disturbing the peace; minor traffic violations; misdemeanor theft, illegal possession of stolen goods; simple assault, battery, possession of marijuana.



  • Over 95% of children and youth arrested in New Orleans are African American. Of the total 754 youth arrested by NOPD and transported to Orleans Parish Juvenile Justice Center (OPJC), 722 were African American youth.


Youth Study Center at Orleans Parish

  • The Youth Study Center serves as the pre-trial detention center for Orleans Parish youth who are charged with committing a delinquent offense.

  • On average, juveniles stay at the Youth Study Center for 25 days and adult transfer youth stay there for 190 days.

  • According to the Youth Study Center Annual Report (2016), three out of every four children arrested in New Orleans are charged with an offense that involves neither violence nor a gun.



  • Out of the 150 youth who were found to have broken the law in 2016:

    • 85 were placed on probation

    • 30 were committed to the custody of the Office of Juvenile Justice

    • 25 received a reprimand and warning

    • 5 received community service/restitution

    • 3 received credit for time served and case was closed

    • 2 were committed to the custody of the Youth Study Center or another state facility