Retired Criminal District Court Judge Calvin Johnson will head New Orleans' criminal justice initiatives and public health advocate Marsha Broussard will serve as director of the city's Health Department, Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office announced Wednesday.

As Landrieu's criminal justice commissioner, Johnson will be taking the reins of one of the mayor's most cherished initiatives, the NOLA For Life program aimed at reducing the city's murder rate, and will oversee the administration's efforts to change the criminal justice system.

“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, he maintained court functions across eight statewide locations,” Landrieu said in a news release.

“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, Johnson was executive director for several years of the Metropolitan Human Services District, an agency created by the state to oversee the delivery of publicly funded, community-based behavioral health services.

Johnson's new role is a multifaceted one, responsible both for internal administration efforts at reducing crime — in part through managing federal and state grants — and for coordinating efforts with outside agencies. He also will advise Landrieu on criminal justice policy.

Charles West, who now holds the position, is leaving the administration later this month after being selected as one of eight government officials to receive a fellowship from the Open Society Foundations. West will "create a guide to help local government officials develop and implement policies and programs to improve the life outcomes of boys and men of color," according to a news release from the organization.

Broussard, who has been director of the nonprofit Louisiana Public Health Institute's efforts on schools and adolescent health, will be the new director of the city's Health Department. 

“I am looking forward to continuing the work of this administration toward elevating the holistic health of our families and youth," Broussard said in a news release.

"The New Orleans Health Department has already initiated a number of effective policies and programs to improve community health and wellness by increasing opportunities for recreation and physical activity, reducing community violence and eliminating health barriers that prevent youths' success in school."

She promised to "continue to pursue effective partnerships to promote these objectives and seek further alliances that further address the societal inequities that undergird poor health outcomes.”

Broussard replaces Charlotte Parent, who left city government this summer to work for LCMC Health, a local hospital company. 


Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.​