DOJ Blasts Gusman, and Gusman Blasts DOJ!!!
Another scathing report issued by the Department of Justice (DOJ) concerning Orleans Parish Prison (OPP). In a strongly worded letter, the U.S. DOJ on Monday, April 23, 2012 accused Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman of neglecting to make necessary improvements to the way the city’s jail is run and failing to seriously negotiate with federal officials to solve the problems at the jail. The 21-page letter is an update to the harsh findings released by the DOJ’s civil rights division in September 2009.
Jonathan Smith, chief of the civil rights division’s special litigation section, who signed the letter, portrays the negotiations between federal officials and Gusman’s attorney’s as rocky. The letter mentioned that the DOJ send a draft Consent Decree to the sheriff in November 2011. Since that time, you have failed to seriously negotiate, Smith wrote, adding that the first substantive response from the Sheriff’s Office was received in March.
Gusman, in an emailed statement also on Monday, defended his efforts to improve conditions at the jail and criticized the DOJ tactics in issuing the public letter.
It is unfortunate that the DOJ decided to use the stories of a few sensationalize the process of the Consent Decree negotiations that the DOJ is trying to force upon the Sheriff’s Office, Gusman said. I am also disappointed that the DOJ chose to share their sensationalized comments with the press before they presented them to our office.
I’m kind of amazed at Gusman’s comments. The Consent Decree is a fact of life that Gusman should accept. To challenge DOJ comments as sensationalized is baiting the very hand that will be feeding them for years to come. Apparently Gusman has decided to pay lip service to the Consent Degree negotiations and not cooperate very much.
Gusman claims closing the House of Detention (HOD) shows he’s playing ball with DOJ. In fact, getting rid of that 10 story dinosaur fits Gusman’s plans to replace almost all jail space after Katrina. That’s ongoing, as we know. Gusman lowered the census of HOD to around 500 inmates, which is very very low for the building that takes in hundreds of fresh faces each weekend of the year! The HOD is terribly outdated, and the source of most complaints originating out of OPP. So closing the building fits into everyone’s plans, and makes everyone happy.
DOJ has acknowledged the closing, and said it’s a good move.
Last month, the U.S. Marshals Service removed all the federal agency’s inmates from Orleans Parish jails, citing concerns about poor (!) conditions. Gusman gets paid per diem for U.S. Marshal prisoners. That’s more money out of his budget. With the HOD closing, that’s more per diem money out of his pocket.
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a proposed class action lawsuit charging the jail is understaffed and plagued by violence.
Just this week, a federal panel examining prison rape across the country released a report claiming a high incidence of sexual violence at the jail.
A couple of months ago, the Orleans Parish Indigent Defender Office sued Gusman for numerous violations of the attorney client privilege. They claim there is no privacy for their clients when they interview and consult with them.
So by my estimates, Gusman has a fairly low census right now, which means his operation is functioning on a lot less money these days. That makes him more vulnerable to federal attempts to get his signature on the Consent Decree, which is coming for absolutely sure.
~ by neworleansmusicman on April 25, 2012.
Posted in Department of Justice, House of Detention, LA, Marlin Gusman, New Orleans, OPP, OPSO, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Deputy, Orleans Parish Prison
Tags: Consent Decree, DOJ, HOD, Jonathan Smith, OPP, Orleans, Orleans Parish Prison, Sheriff Marlin Gusman, U.S. Marshall's Service