Properly screen cases
Other district attorneys throughout the state typically prosecute 60 to 75% of cases forwarded to them, using a robust screening process to weed out legally insufficient or frivolous cases in the interest of justice. The current DA, however, has set a quota of accepting and prosecuting over 90% of them. In doing so he shirks his responsibility to guard public trust and resources. Not only does this overburden the courts and delay trials, but it is the number one driver of our city and state being one of the most incarcerated places in America.
The current DA's over-prosecution is based on the misguided belief that the more we prosecute, the safer we are. His 'win at any cost' toxic culture has not made us safer, but it has made New Orleans the national leader of exonerations by wrongfully convicting innocent men. Jason will decline to prosecute cases that are not supported by sufficient and legally-obtained evidence.
Treat addiction as a medical problem, not a crime
Drug overdose deaths in New Orleans have outpaced homicides in recent years. Jason recognizes and has always argued that the solution to drug addiction is treatment, not incarceration, regardless of the type of drug or ethnicity of the user. Jails and prisons are simply not equipped to treat addiction. As District Attorney, Jason will work with criminal court judges and other government actors to increase treatment capacity and opportunities for diversion. This will help those arrested for drug possession or minor addiction-related offenses obtain the treatment they need rather than jail time.
Treat mental illness as a medical problem, not a crime
Untreated and under-treated serious mental illnesses place stress on every facet of the criminal justice system. Jails and prisons are ill equipped to to treat psychiatric disorders, yet as many as 1 in 5 incarcerated persons in the United States suffers a serious mental illness. Once incarcerated, those with serious mental illness are at increased risk of victimization and often do not get the treatment they need, causing even further mental deterioration. It is immoral, ineffective, and extremely costly to use the criminal justice system to warehouse our residents living with mental illness.
As District Attorney, Jason will work with agencies, stakeholders, and affected citizens to implement a full continuum of coordinated psychiatric treatment and care in communities. As District Attorney, Jason will double down on the work he has already done as a council member with civil court, mental health activists, and other agencies to expand Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) in New Orleans. AOT is court-supervised treatment for individuals with severe mental illness who meet strict legal criteria.
Jason will work to move mental health care from the criminal justice system to real long-term treatment options, recognizing the overwhelming body of research establishing the effectiveness of AOT in improving treatment outcomes. The research specifically demonstrates that AOT reduces the risks of hospitalization, arrest and incarceration, homelessness, victimization and violence. It not only increases public safety, but also increases treatment adherence and eases the strain placed on family members or other primary caregivers.
End money bail
The vast majority of people held in our local jail have not been convicted of any crime; they simply cannot afford bail while awaiting their day in court. Due to the current DA's overly aggressive tactics, many individuals too poor to buy their freedom languish in jail until they're ultimately acquitted or assigned probation and released. Their time in jail does nothing to achieve public safety, but it costs them, their families and the city greatly.
We owe it to morality, to all tax payers and the city at large to stop paying a King’s ransom to house and feed a population of nonviolent residents who could be working to house and feed themselves. From his years on the City Council, Jason understands that the current money bail system actually extracts huge sums of money from the city’s budget. It costs over 2 million dollars per year just to staff a 50-person pod at our local jail.
By moving away from "money bail" New Orleans will see a reduced strain on the legal system and a reduced jail population, paying dividends back into the City’s coffers. We can use that savings to stabilize the budget, invest in communities and create a system built on equity and fairness. As District Attorney, Jason will ensure that suspects who are dangerous to others or may not return for trial will still be held, while implementing safe alternatives to cash bail for those charged with nonviolent offenses, including monitoring and regular check-ins.
Committee Hosts Discussion on Ending Money Injustice in the Criminal Legal System
Council Releases Bonds Paid Public Information Dashboard - New Orleans City Council