Support Public Defense in New Orleans

Public defense in New Orleans is at a critical crossroads. While the recent announcement of a $150,000 increase to our 2016 appropriation was a welcome renewed commitment to OPD, we still remain drastically under-funded and outresourced compared to other criminal justice entities and face a continued budget shortfall. This threatens our community's right to an open and honest, efficient and effective criminal justice system. 

The Orleans Public Defenders play a critical role in protecting the rights and well-being of our community, reducing recidivism by connecting people to jobs and services, and ensuring our criminal justice system remains fair and just, especially for New Orleans' poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

We make our final case for equal justice before the New Orleans City Council Thursday morning. We are asking for your support. Attend our budget hearing. Call your council representative and Mayor Landrieu to demand full funding for OPD and parity within our criminal justice system. If you haven't yet, please sign our petition

The current funding crisis is brought about in part from systemic, structural underfunding; budget cuts by the state; and declining local revenue. And while the City of New Orleans provides direct support for OPD, our appropriation is one-sixth of the support provided to the District Attorney’s office – and even less when compared to other criminal justice agencies. While OPD handles 85% of all criminal cases in New Orleans, OPD’s budget remains just one-third the budget of the District Attorney’s office.

To create and maintain a public defense system that contributes to the goals of the city's criminal justice policy – reducing over-incarceration, connecting the poor and mentally ill with services and jobs, advocating for the rights of incarcerated people to receive services and treatment that will reduce recidivism – then the City of New Orleans must play a more significant part in funding public defense.

New Orleans can do better. New Orleans must do better if we are to continue the strides already made toward meaningful criminal justice reform.  

Thank you for your continued support.

Derwyns Signature

Derwyn Bunton, Chief Defender 

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Orleans Public Defenders
2601 Tulane Avenue
Suite 700
New Orleans, LA 70119
    Tel: (504) 821-8101
    Fax: (504) 821-5285