The Department of Justice has tasked a third party to take over operation of the troubled New Orleans jail, pointing out to the federal court in question that the Marlin Gusman, the city’s sheriff has been failing year after year to improve the dangerous living conditions of inmates. The lawyers of the inmates supported the government in the move holding Gusman in contempt for noncompliance and negligence, and agreeing to settlements for major overhauls in the jail’s structure and intergrity. The justice Department believes that the new leadership will change the overall look of the jail conditions, and lead to better rehabilitation.
The Justice Department made a statement in the court saying although it is beyond doubt that such a level of remodeling the system is an out of the ordinary solution, so is the amount of endless harm that seems to continue plaguing the jail. The office made the request stating that history of the ongoing case, the state of the consent judgment compliance and the dangerous living conditions for inmates show that the only way to keep everyone happy is receivership. While Gusman did not respond to initial mails, he has repeatedly stated since his election In 2004 that he has tried to make progress to jail reforms and blamed the city for its meager budget.
Although inmates were shifted to a new unit last September, stated a court-appointed monitor that violence had continued building up to an inmate’s suicide in March. Katie Schwartzmann, co-director of the Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center and an attorney for inmates says she felt it was unfortunate that things had gotten to the point that an outside administration had to be brought in. Since the jail’s initial federal scrutiny which started in 2008, there has been over a dozen unnatural deaths, scandals and more than one lawsuit against it. It was also clear that the clearly didn’t want to adhere to the consent that had been in effect 2012.
The administration of Mayor Mitch Landrieu meanwhile remains highly critical of Gusman’s management tactics. The city funded the jail and its planned upgrades, while Gusman operated it. Back in 2013, when the city had asked Lance Africk, a U.S. District Judge, to shift the jail in receivership, he had rejected the plea but had not ruled our receivership as a future remedy to the jail’s upkeep. The proposed receiver for the jail would have the complete authority to manage the jail as they see fit, including the ability to promote, discipline and fire employees, create contracts for jail services and decide how the allotted budget should be spent.