By Natasha Robin, Fox 8

August 15, 2023

Leaders of New Orleans’ criminal justice system on Tuesday (Aug. 15) touted a $30 million planned technology upgrade that they say will replace computers and data systems that have been outdated for decades.

“This is going to cost a lot of money,” Orleans Parish District Attorney Jason Williams said. “But it’s going to solve a lot of problems at once for the criminal legal system.”

The $30 million project is being funded by the federal American Rescue Plan. City leaders say it’s designed to overhaul New Orleans’ critically antiquated justice technology systems.

“People talk about what can be done to make the criminal legal system work better,” Williams said. “Well, this is a major piece, going from horse-and-buggy to a Tesla.”

From the NOPD to the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, to the Orleans Public Defenders’ office to the DA’s office and Criminal District Court, the computer systems being used now in some cases date back to the 1980s or 1990s.

“With our systems so outdated, it frequently resolves into some really dangerous outcomes,” says Chief Public Defender Danny Engelberg.

The goal is to replace the decades-old computer systems with advanced, cloud-based technology, allowing for the different branches of the city’s criminal justice system to share data and information.

“This is a way of making agencies of the criminal legal system to be able to communicate effortlessly, in a way that they simply aren’t able to do today,” Williams said.

Mayor LaToya Cantrell and the City Council authorized the justice tech modernization program in December. Mission Critical Partners is the vendor selected to implement the upgrade.

“I’m hoping and praying that this will make a change that the whole community will be proud of, and the system will help us to move cases along quicker than we’ve been able to do,” CDC Chief Judge Robin Pittman said.

City leaders hope to have the new system installed by mid-2025.