As the Sheriff’s Election Approaches, OPPRC Organizes

In anticipation of an important Orleans Parish Sheriff’s election and further meetings on the planned Phase III facility, the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC) is organizing in various ways. OPPRC’s website advertises itself as a “diverse, grassroots coalition of individuals and organizations from across New Orleans who have come together to shrink the size of the jail and improve the conditions of confinement for those held in detention in Orleans Parish.” 

OPPRC, founded in 2004, has been a major community organizer in criminal justice reform. Some major wins and fights of the organization include organizing municipal bail reform, lowering jail bed caps, monitoring for constitutional compliance, shifting police behavior during COVID-19, regulating tear gas use, and – notably – mobilizing successfully for massive jail population reductions. 

As their own website states: “Since our 2004 founding, we have worked to reduce the number of people incarcerated in New Orleans from roughly 6,300 people before Hurricane Katrina in 2005 (more than 5x the national average) to roughly 800 people today. Our work has led to the most dramatic jail population reduction per capita in the United States.” Currently, the organization is largely occupied with the massive public debate over the planned Phase III facility and the upcoming sheriff’s election on October 9th

There’s a lot of important events ahead for the organization and if you’re interested in the work OPPRC does, here are some dates to mark down:

  • August 18th – OPPRC will be announcing their platform for the sheriff’s race online. This should be a very useful tool for navigating some of the major issues to be considered going into the election. 
  • August 20th – At 5:30 p.m. CST, there will be an online Neighborhood Participation Program meeting concerning OPPRC’s amendment to the conditional use ordinance for the Orleans Justice Complex to further the retrofit process in response to Phase III. The community is asked to join and share comments and concerns at the zoom link here or by phone at +1 312 626 6799. For additional questions, comments, or updates, email
  • August 26th – The last day to submit public comment to the City Planning Committee for M-21-276 (agenda item #1), concerning the retrofit option. There are also tentative direct action plans for a jazz funeral for Phase III by the jail – time TBA. 
  • September 13th – At 6 p.m. CST, for those interested in joining OPPRC, you can register for their next monthly meeting online at this link. They will be discussing their recent wins, progress, how you can get involved in creating a non-police crisis response team as part of their #HelpNotHandcuffs” campaign, and how to advocate for community-based resources.
  • September 22nd – This should be quite the large community event and would be of interest to anyone interested in the sheriff’s election. It will be a town-hall style meeting where OPPRC will outline their platform for the race, educate citizens on candidates, and take feedback from the community. The event will be at 6 p.m. CST, setting TBA.
  • September 24th –The City Planning Commission will be having their hearing in regards to the planned Phase III facility. OPPRC will be in attendance to argue in opposition to the planned facility. One can also watch online here.

Regardless of one’s own outlook on criminal justice, these events offer a valuable opportunity to engage with fellow members of the community who care about the state of Orleans Parish’s criminal justice system. OPPRC has emerged as one of the most prominent direct representatives of community interest in New Orleans criminal justice and is worth keeping an eye on. 

If you wish to help OPPRC as a member, you can sign up here. Additionally, those who wish to support OPPRC’s current #HelpNotHandcuffs” campaign for mental health crisis reform can sign their petition here. One can also donate to OPPRC here. From now until (at least) October 9th will be a precipitous time for New Orleans criminal justice, be sure to keep up.

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