NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A prison consultant says changes in New Orleans police and court practices would help reduce the city jail population — and the cost of implementing court-ordered jail reforms.

James Austin told the City Council Friday that the Orleans Parish Prison population is drifting downward, but needs to be reduced by hundreds to avoid higher costs. Austin said police and courts should avoid locking up people for less serious offenses. He also said the city should work with the state to reduce the number of state inmates held in the local lockup.

The chief jailer, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, was to make a presentation later Friday as city budget hearings for 2014 continue.

The city is paying $1.88 million this year for court-ordered reforms. Future costs are yet to be determined.