By Matt Davis, The Lens staff writer

The City Council voted unanimously this morning to approve four ordinances aimed at reducing the number of people arrested for minor crimes.

Instead of an arrest on a state charge, most offenders will now get a ticket ordering them to municipal court on four specific crimes:

  • * Simple possession of marijuana
  • * Interfering with a law enforcement investigation
  • * Flight from an officer
  • * Prostitution

“These ordinances will contribute significantly to the city’s efforts to create greater efficiency in our criminal justice systems,” said Councilwoman Susan Guidry, who has led the effort to get the ordinances approved.

Guidry credited the Criminal Justice Leadership Alliance, a project established by the Vera Institute of Justice New Orleans, with working with various law enforcement agencies to develop consensus.

Guidry also is working with Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s Criminal Justice Working Group to attempt to make a recommendation on the size of a new jail, and this morning’s ordinances will help reduce jail population.

“We also don’t have the problem of people being thrown in jail for petty offenses and disrupting their jobs, their families,” Guidry said.

The ordinances were co-sponsored by Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson, and Councilman Jon Johnson.

“The police power that we spare by giving people tickets instead of taking them to jail means the officers can focus on felonies,” Clarkson said. “It’s a win-win-win-win.”