CONTACT PERSON: JUDY BOUDREAUX
| APRIL 23, 2018
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Aimed at reducing the jail population in New Orleans, a new Public Safety
Assessment (PSA) model was unveiled today. The PSA tool will assist judges and the Orleans Parish
Criminal District Court Pretrial Services department with assessing the risk level defendants pose if
released pending trial. The PSA provides information that is race‐ and gender‐neutral. The tool will help
create a safer, fair and cost‐effective pretrial service system to reduce unnecessary pretrial detention by
identifying a defendant’s risk of failure to appear and commit a crime while out on bail.
Over three days last week, stakeholders, including judges, were trained on the PSA under the
supervision of the Louisiana Supreme Court, and in partnership with Criminal District Court and the City
of New Orleans.
“Following the Rule of Law and applying fairness at all times is the right thing to do,” said Chief
Justice Bernette Joshua Johnson. “The implementation of the PSA tool will offer evidence‐based data to
assist judges and commissioners in determining whether release or detention is appropriate considering
the charges faced by a defendant.”
Developed by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the PSA model helps guide pretrial decision-making
in an effort to increase safety, reduce taxpayer costs, and enhance fairness and efficiency in the
“It’s a two part process,” according to Tracey Flemings‐Davillier, Criminal District Court judge.“First data is collected during the pre‐trial assessment. A risk score is then calculated using a rubric based
on nine indicators,” she said. “The second phase is the needs assessment that will allow the judge to
feel more comfortable releasing the defendant, knowing his needs will be addressed and assistance will
be provided,” said Flemings-Davillier.
Needs assessments are completed utilizing the Ohio Risk Assessment System (ORAS). During this
phase other factors that may hinder a pre‐trial defendant’s return to court are considered. ORAS offers
ways to quantify and qualify the needs of the defendant.
”Every defendant does not have a need. There are various levels of monitoring and needs. A
defendant may simply need to know why he has been arrested, he may need medical care or assistance
with substance abuse,” said Flemings‐Davillier. “A defendant’s needs may entail continuous contact
with the supervision team, court reminders and drug testing when applicable,” she said.
“We want a tool that is a workable model that provides more insight so judges can adequately
assess the risk level of a defendant,” Orleans Criminal Court Chief Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson said. “Research indicates that pre‐trial detention of low risk defendants increases the likelihood of future
crime. We believe the collaboration will better assist us in our criminal reform efforts.”
Since 2013 the PSA tool has been used by judges in 36 jurisdictions in America, including New
Jersey, Kentucky and Arizona. A nationwide launch of the tool will soon be made accessible online to any
interested jurisdictions. “We are excited to be the first jurisdiction in Louisiana to implement a nationally
recognized risk assessment tool. We are looking forward to sharing information with the rest of the state.
Thank you to Chief Justice Johnson for making this a reality,” Judge Flemings‐Davillier said.
For more information about the PSA, please visit www.arnoldfoundation.org.
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