Mayor Taps Former Judge Johnson To Serve As New Criminal Justice Commissioner

Criminal Justice Commissioner for the City of New Orleans Calvin Johnson

NEW ORLEANS – Mayor Mitch Landrieu named retired Chief Judge of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court Calvin Johnson as Criminal Justice Commissioner for the City of New Orleans. In this capacity, Johnson will be charged with overseeing NOLA FOR LIFE and the City’s criminal justice portfolio. He takes over for Charles West, who will be leaving his position as Director of the Innovation Delivery Team and of the Office of Criminal Justice Coordination on Friday, Nov. 18.

         “Judge Johnson has decades of experience in the criminal justice world. He has served as drug court judge and established the first Mental Health Treatment Court in the State. As Chief Judge at the time Hurricane Katrina struck, Judge Johnson maintained court functions across eight statewide locations,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “With Judge Johnson’s leadership, we will move closer to ending the City’s culture of violence and creating a culture of peace. He will work to ensure the criminal justice system is even better coordinated.” 

         Following his retirement from the bench in 2008, Judge Johnson was enlisted by the Governor to serve as the Executive Director of the Metropolitan Human Services District (MHSD), an agency created by the State legislature to oversee the delivery of publicly funded, community based behavioral health services. Judge Johnson directed the agency’s turnaround, leveraged new opportunities created by managed care and the Affordable Care Act, and established an effective leadership team. The MHSD is now a $30 million organization operating an array of evidence-based programs across three Parishes.

         Since his retirement from the MHSD in April 2014, Johnson has done consulting work for Magellan Health Louisiana, Futures Education and The Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse (CADA). The consulting work for CADA specifically focused on a Reentry program for formerly-incarcerated individuals with Behavioral Health issues.

         Johnson received his undergraduate degree from Southern University in Baton Rouge in 1969, served four years in the United Stated Air Force, and then received his Juris Doctorate from Loyola Law School in 1978. He was Professor of Law at Loyola Law School for nine years and Judge of the Orleans Parish Criminal District Court for seventeen years.  He has received many awards in recognition of his commitment to working with individuals involved in the criminal justice system through every aspect of their recovery, including job readiness, housing stability, and community service projects. Judge Johnson remains on the faculty of the Loyola Law School as an adjunct professor.

         The Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Coordination coordinates the efforts of public and private agencies involved in the City's crime control, criminal justice and victim assistance activities. The office administers, monitors and evaluates state and federal grants to facilitate crime reduction efforts. The office acts as the staff of the Criminal Justice Council, which decides the allocation and distribution of criminal justice grant funds for Orleans Parish. These principal duties are conducted with an eye toward coordination of all public and private efforts in the public safety and criminal justice areas.

         Judge Calvin Johnson said, “I am both thrilled and humbled by the opportunity the Mayor has given me to make a difference for my city.  I love New Orleans, and I look forward to being a part of the transformation that Mayor Landrieu has lead of the criminal justice system.”

         Johnson will serve as the Mayor’s lead on the Criminal Justice Council, which advises the Mayor and the City Council on policy matters regarding crime control and criminal justice activities, and coordination of the administration of criminal and juvenile justice in the city. Johnson’s portfolio will encompass NOLA FOR LIFE and criminal justice reform. Johnson will help lead the search for the next Youth Study Center Director. He will also work with the new Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office Compliance Director Gary Maynard. Johnson will start on Monday, Nov. 21.

         Director of the Innovation Delivery Team and of the Office of Criminal Justice Coordination Charles West will be leaving City Hall after spending the past six years improving public safety by reducing the murder rate; increasing economic opportunity for disadvantaged job seekers; and reducing the overuse of local incarceration.

         West was one of eight people from senior ranks of government selected by The Open Society Foundations as a recipient of the Leadership in Government Fellowship, a new initiative supporting the work of seasoned public servants whose work in government has advanced economic and social justice.

         “Charles has been a steadfast leader within my administration and has leveraged many critical partnerships between the City and our community leaders,” said Mayor Landrieu. “He has made great strides toward changing the culture of violence in our city to a culture of peace. In the four years since NOLA FOR LIFE launched, there have been 86 fewer murders and an 18 percent lower murder rate than in the four years prior to NOLA FOR LIFE. Charles has been critical to developing and implementing NOLA FOR LIFE. I want to personally thank Charles for his hard work and service on behalf the people of New Orleans. He will be sorely missed around City Hall.”

         West said, “My time in government service has been incredibly fulfilling. I’m grateful to the Mayor for entrusting me with three of his priorities, long-standing issues that have disproportionately affected the African-American community in New Orleans. I look forward to using this fellowship to expand the reach of my government service to help other cities across America.”

         Before joining the Mayor’s Innovation Delivery Team, West spent ten years combining business process re-design with the implementation of technology, to develop powerful solutions that improve organizational effectiveness. A New Orleans native, West returned home in 2011 to help transform City government by improving services, promoting efficiency, and increasing the availability of information to drive decision-making. West’s previous consulting experience ranges from performance management for the State of Minnesota, to process improvement for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, to business analysis for companies in a wide variety of industries including healthcare, insurance and publishing. West earned a B.S. in Computer Science and an M.B.A from Georgia Institute of Technology.

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