Why are there only 3 episodes of Jailbirds New Orleans on Netflix? (2024)

Fans of the Netflix docuseries Jailbirds were thrilled with the streaming service announced that the second installment of the franchise, Jailbirds New Orleans, would be released on September 24. However, the excitement of many viewers was cut short when the series dropped and there were only three episodes. That is half the number of episodes of the six-episode premiere season.

Not only does Jailbirds New Orleans only have three episodes, but the season seems to cut off abruptly. The third episode ends just after we are introduced to Julie Raffray, who was awaiting sentencing after initially being charged with second-degree murder in the overdose death of an FBI informant.

Fans of the show began posting on social media, asking if there were any more Jailbirds New Orleans episodes to come. I was one of the viewers a bit surprised by the truncated season, so I began research the topic hoping to find an explanation.

Why are there just 3 Jailbirds New Orleans episodes?

The filming of Jailbirds at the Orleans Justice Center jail in New Orleans was a controversial topic. The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office signed an agreement with 44 Blue Productions LLC in 2019 “to chronicle the lives and experiences of a group of consented, female inmates within the Orleans Justice Center,” according to a statement issued by the department. The OPSO says that filming took place over four days in early 2020, but they have not provided specific dates when filming took place.

Clearly, four days doesn’t seem like nearly enough time to film a season of Jailbirds. It seems that production was cut short due in part to concerns expressed by the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center.

The Justice Center represents the inmates of the Orleans Justice Center jail as part of a 2013 agreement stemming from a 2009 United States Department of Justice finding. That finding determined that “the facility was not adequately protecting those incarcerated from violence inflicted by other detainees and jail staff, and mental and medical healthcare in the facility did not meet constitutional standards,” according to The Lens.

After Netflix announced Jailbirds New Orleans, the Deputy Director of the Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center issued a statement to The Lens. Here is an excerpt that mentions production being shut down — twice:

In early 2020, after we raised concerns about the significant risks for harm posed to our clients by filming a reality show in the Orleans Justice Center, OPSO twice represented that production of the show had been shut down and terminated. In a jail that remains out of compliance with significant portions of the Consent Judgment, including those directly related to ensuring the health and safety of people imprisoned at the facility, OPSO should not be diverting its time, resources, and attention. OPSO’s choice to do so is the latest example of the agency’s unfocused and distorted priorities which continue to allow dangerous, unconstitutional conditions to persist.

That would seem to explain why 44 Blue Productions only filmed for four days. And if they only filmed for four days, that would explain the shortened season. It’s actually impressive that they manage to put three episodes together.

In a not-so-favorable review of Jailbirds New Orleans, Voters Organized to Educate and Voice of the Experienced (VOTE) deputy director Bruce Reilly provided a believable narrative:

Perhaps [Sheriff] Gusman tried to [shut down production], and perhaps 44 Blue Productions thought: “to hell with that, we have a contract and 30 hours of women yelling at each other. We can edit this down to 3 hours and sell it to Netflix. Kardashians meets Cops. Let’s get paid.”

If you’re wondering if there will be additional episodes of Jailbirds New Orleans, it doesn’t appear that is going to happen.

#JailbirdsNewOrleans inmate Crystal passed away in June at just 37 years old. Read her obituary, watch the beautiful tribute slideshow from the funeral, and read her family members' reactions to Crystal's appearance on the show. #Jailbirds #RIPCrystal https://t.co/CgmdHhBl0O pic.twitter.com/Dli1NLLcSQ

— Starcasm (@starcasm) October 3, 2021

OPSO defends Jailbirds New Orleans decision

Since Netflix’s announcement of Jailbirds New Orleans, the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office has responded by defending their initial decision to allow filming. They also addressed questions about who got paid and who didn’t. From WDSU:

The OPSO said in a statement the office was not paid to have the show filmed at the jail. The office signed an agreement with 44 Blue Productions LLC in 2019 “to chronicle the lives and experiences of a group of consented, female inmates within the Orleans Justice Center,” the OPSO statement says. All those who participated in the show worked directly with the production company to give individual consent, and some of the incarcerated women “may have chosen” to consult with their lawyers, according to the statement.

“By sharing their stories and presenting the work of some of our deputies within the pods of the Orleans Justice Center, our expectation was that messages could be shared to show the common struggles that inmates face in their individual journeys to rebuild their lives and deter others from going down the same path of incarceration,” the OPSO statement says.

Get details on the 2nd degree murder charge against #JailbirdsNewOrleans inmate Magen Hall after the 2019 stabbing death of a 62-yr-old businessman in New Orleans. Plus, get an update on her murder trial, which has been delayed numerous times. #Jailbirds https://t.co/f7V7nqZfq0 pic.twitter.com/9zCa75zGgB

— Starcasm (@starcasm) September 25, 2021

An additional statement attributed to OPSO public information officer Philip Stelly:

Sheriff Marlin Gusman stands by the decisions of the OPSO staff and attorneys who consulted with all of the appropriate parties in allowing 44 Blue Productions to give this opportunity to inmates and staff to show what it is like to be held in the city’s jail.

Overall, he believes the series shows how improved the conditions in our jail are, due to considerable investment of time and resources by taxpayers and OPSO staff.

Moreover, those criticizing this series have undoubtedly not seen it, just as he has not, and are using it as an opportunity to promote their opposition to a project that indeed was built better for our city, as proven during the recent Hurricane Ida where the facility and staff operated efficiently and without pause.

#JailbirdsNewOrleans UPDATE: Is Harley Himber back in jail? PLUS, details on her CRAZY arrest after lying about being a secret service agent, attempting to kidnap a boy and his mom, chasing then crashing into them multiple times.. and naked rock throwing?! https://t.co/4EQAk0zCCb pic.twitter.com/QigEpLtKyS

— Starcasm (@starcasm) September 27, 2021

Statement condemning filming of Jailbirds New Orleans

Many people and organizations in New Orleans are not supportive of Sheriff Gusman’s decision to allow filming. Here is a joint statement about Jailbirds New Orleans from the Orleans Public Defenders, Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, the Promise of Justice Initiative and Voice of the Experienced:

We are appalled to learn of the newest season of Jail Birds, which takes place in New Orleans Parish Prison. That this documentary was allowed to happen is an abhorrent misuse of the Sheriff’s time. Furthermore, Sheriff Gusman gave no official notice of the show’s filming and production. The allegations from the previous installation of the series are troubling and the current trailer appears to be more of the same.

During an ongoing global pandemic, where incarcerated people are exponentially more at risk for serious illness. priority should be on protecting the health and safety of those in his care, not creating voyeuristic entertainment.

Mass incarceration has innumerable and detrimental impacts to individuals, their families and the community. It should not be misconstrued as some form of summer camp for adults, or used for punchlines. sound bites. or exploitation of vulnerable people. That reality TV is a priority speaks volumes.

#JailbirdsNewOrleans Julie Raffray was charged with 2nd-degree murder after a man she sold drugs to overdosed. The man who died turned out to be an FBI informant. And the dealer Julie was selling for was a DEA informant! Plus, an update on Julie's case. https://t.co/HWdIOZ6oqN

— Starcasm (@starcasm) September 28, 2021

Asa Hawks is a writer and editor for Starcasm. You can contact Asa via Twitter, Facebook, or email at starcasmtips(at)yahoo.com

Why are there only 3 episodes of Jailbirds New Orleans on Netflix? (2)


Why are there only 3 episodes of Jailbirds New Orleans on Netflix? (2024)
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