|Orleans Parish Prison Reform
Indigent Defense Reform
Widespread harassment and unconstitutional treatment of people of color pervades all aspects of our communities. We are unable to gather in public areas, including on our own porches, for fear of harassment. Our community members are physically injured and mentally and emotionally battered. In October of 2006, a Safe Streets survey of over 500 community members found that 71% of African Americans live in daily fear that police will harm them or a loved one. If arrested, regardless of innocence or guilt, we lose our jobs because our family members do not have the money to bail us out and our employers will not wait out the two months of “D.A. Time” for us to return to work. Near constant degradation at the hands of law enforcement hinders our ability to build strong families and vibrant communities.
For decades, our city officials have prioritized punitive and brutal systems, instead of quality services for children and families, often because it helped them build and maintain political power. These priorities have clearly failed to keep anyone safe and the impact on African American communities, particularly on our young people, has been devastating.
Over 80% of those incarcerated or detained in Orleans Parish Prison are African American and African Americans are far more frequently the victims of violent crime in New Orleans.
Only the complete overhaul of this system will provide any notion of justice for our community.
Our Efforts to Transform These Systems Include:
Grassroots Organizing and Community Empowerment
Building a strong and informed membership base from communities most impacted is the foundation of our work. We accomplish this through several strategies:
Outreach & Recruitment
Safe Streets engages in door to door survey gathering on law enforcement issues to identify what communities identify as issues and to recruit them to join. We use monthly general membership meetings to further increase interest in Safe Streets’ programs and campaigns. As potential leaders emerge, we invite them to join our campaign and organizing committees where we work to deepen our understanding of systems, explore reforms and identify new issues of focus.
Leadership Development and Peer Advocacy
Safe Streets offers monthly trainings to educate and build leadership skills. For example, we offer Advocacy Trainings for family members of prisoners, Know Your Rights Trainings for young people to help develop their deescalating skills so they can better handle confrontations with police, Organizing & Outreach Trainings for our members to develop organizing skills and analysis.
Safe Streets uses its own coalition as well as our leadership in other coalitions to disseminate information on best practices, coordinate media, policy and direct action strategies, garner resources and build allies.
Direct Actions and Policy Advocacy
Safe Streets uses direct actions, events and public hearings to release survey results and reports that expose the abuses low-income communities of color endure as a result of a failed public safety system. Safe Streets combines direct actions with policy advocacy to achieve reforms and illuminate patterns of injustice within the criminal justice systems.
Safe Streets builds relationships with the city council, mayor’s office and law enforcement agencies and brokers relationships between best practices institutes, foundations and city leaders so that they have access to accurate information and resources with which to implement ideas that best serve our community.
Speakers Bureau & Media Advocacy
Safe Streets has established a Speakers Bureau of people who have lost loved ones to violence or who come from communities most targeted by law enforcement to give the issues the human face and facts necessary to counter law enforcement myths. In addition, Safe Streets reaches out media to educate New Orleans residents and to raise the public’s consciousness about the issue of criminal justice reform. We write Op-ed pieces, meet with editorial boards, and release reports that highlight best practices and re-focus and center the debate on the impact on communities of color.