Stolen Guns Causing Mayhem Throughout Town!

•March 17, 2017 • Leave a Comment

A record 600+ guns were reported stolen in New Orleans last year, an astounding number. It turns out robbers have zeroed in on cash, guns and jewelry as the most valuable, portable items they can steal. Thieves with hours in a house still only take these three items.  Criminals acquire guns in several ways, and stealing guns is a popular from cars remains a popular method.

Why people leave cash and guns in their cars I will never understand. I don’t own any guns and I’ve never left more than newspaper change in the car. I have a friend of a friend who is serving 10 years in Angola who fueled a heroin addiction by robbing open cars uptown of guns and cash. He’s a real clean looking fellow who the cops never suspected for years. He did a lot of horse by selling guns and collecting a lot of greenbacks. Half of all reported stolen guns were stolen from vehicles.

Car Waiting to be Burglarized

Federal authorities report that 60% of all gun thefts are never reported. I suppose people are embarrassed by their stupidity. Stories abound about people leaving their cars unlocked all day, with thousands of dollars in cash and an arsenal in the car.  Folks think leaving their keys on the dashboard is smart, as they are easy to find. That holds for any crooks walking by also.

What else do people leave in their cars? You’d be surprised- Car burglars take anything of value from cash, GPSs, electronics, digital cameras, I-pods, MP3 Players, expensive sunglasses, laptops, weapons and whatever else of value that is left insecure.

New Orleans City Council OKs Additional $2.6 million to Run Prison!

•March 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The City Council is so enamored with the terrific turnaround that has occurred at the Orleans Parish Prison that they raised the Jail budget by $2.6 million. Why was this done? To reward the great work of the independent administrator of the jail, Gary D. Maynard. Maynard as hired to ‘assist’ Gusman in running his jail by studying the situation and issuing a report. His report has dazzled the powers that be (Mayor, City Council) to the point of giddiness.  It’s a bright day for our city when a consultant does what the elected official just cannot, grab control of our out of control Orleans Parish penal system.

Every year, the City Council and Gusman’s team duke it out before the Council over the jail’s budget. Now, the City Council, the Mayor, and the Sheriff’s Office are in agreement for the first time in a million years, or so it seems.  Maynard has even brought agreement to the formerly highly contentious issue of another, smaller new jail building dedicated to less than a hundred mentally ill inmates.

The new jail building would cost $89 million and would be build within 24 months. It will house mentally unstable or physically unfit inmates.  Another facet of the plan calls for the reopening of the jail’s Temporary Detention Center.

Opening both facilities will ensure that all those prisoners that Gusman that he sent to North Louisiana and kept there can return to the local jail. That saves a million and a half dollars. The spending plan dictates raises for Sheriff’s office employees of approximately $3,000/year for most employees. Maynard’s plan also increases staffing by 77 new civilians and 43 new uniformed jailers.

 

Hundreds More Prisoners to be Relocated to Plaquemines!

•February 4, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Under a plan hatched by Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s court ordered stand-in, Gary D. Maynard, months ago, half the inmates in the new jail will move temporarily move to the empty new Plaquemines jail. The irony here is just amazing. Our new jail will be mostly empty!  Instead of working the new training into the staffs’ schedules, for example an extra two or three classes a week for a total of 6 to 12 hours, seems easier and cheaper than incurring the large cost of transporting hundreds of inmates around for a few months.

Plaquemines Parish New Jail 2

Plaquemines Parish New Jail 2

A 6-week training program is supposed to work miracles in fixing a jail staff that is underpaid and demoralized by years of constant acting out by both the inmates and the staff. Meanwhile, the hundreds of inmates awaiting trial in far flung jails around the state cannot get access to their families, support network or attorneys . Defense attorneys, judges and families are frustrated by this negative turn of events.

In late 2015, Gusman began housing hundreds of prisoners in Northern Louisiana due to a deputy shortage that has endangered both the inmates and deputies.

The Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Office agreed to take 200 New Orleans inmates at the new Pointe a la Hache 871 bed jail, which has stood empty since opening in 2015. Plaquemines has been unable to field enough trained deputies to man the new jail, but Plaquemines Sheriff Gerald Turlich, Jr. said he’s hired a dozen new correctional officers with the hopes of expanding the jail’s population.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

Turlich said the city of New Orleans will pony up 28 dollars a day, just about 4 bucks more than the State Department of Public Safety and Corrections pays to sheriffs’ housing state prisoners.

New Orleans mayor Mitch Landrieu, who is mandated by state law to pay for the housing of New Orleans prisoners, completely supports Maynard’s plan to temporarily relocate inmates out of New Orleans so the staff can be properly trained.

20 Year Old Perjury Case Gets City Council and Cannizzaro Feuding- In Court!!

•January 29, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Leon Cannizzaro isn’t the worst District Attorney New Orleans has ever seen, but he has made some boneheaded decisions. Recently a man was released from prison after serving 20 years because his chief accusers recanted their testimony, stating that the police had pressured them to see things their way.

leon-cannizzaro-looking-unhappy

Our Esteemed D.A. Looking Dour

Our D.A. proceeds to file perjury charges against the men who changed their testimony. When recant your testimony because the police originally made you say something untrue, that’s a good thing. People should be encouraged to step forward and right legal wrongs whenever possible. Prosecuting them discourages this sort of action. That’s bad for society as a whole.

New Orleans City Councilman Jason Williams remained the legal ringleader, this time in his role as a criminal defense attorney, as he and a Cannizzaro lieutenant traded bitter barbs during the high-profile perjury trial. Most people think that attorneys shouldn’t insult each other during trial. It appears infantile to everyone in the courtroom. It is infantile.

Williams has been the anti-Cannizzaro force on the City Council, cheerleading most of the criticism of the D.A. Personally I think Cannizzaro deserves all the criticism. He could be a much better District Attorney.

councilman-jason-williams

Jason Williams Looking Jovial

The D.A. isn’t having a very good time recently. The City Council  cut the D.A.’s office budget by $600,000. Cannizzaro has gone after the Mayor Mitch Landrieu recently, making fun of the Mayor’s new crime fighting plan.

Taking your out of court feud into court is immature by both parties, and a bad example of abusing the system. It seems like Cannizzaro is mad about the system freeing an innocent man. That’s acting like a baby also.

Lawsuits Claim Inmates Are Held Beyond End of Sentence!

•January 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

riverbend

 

Two lawsuits claiming that prisoners from New Orleans residing in jails in faraway Northeastern Louisiana are being held beyond their release dates. Lawyers for the MacAthur Justice Center blame a breakdown in the process of releasing prisoners or sending them to the state Department of Public Safety and Corrections once they are sentenced by Orleans Parish judges.

The lack of a sense of urgency to fix this is appalling, said Katie Schwartzmann, the law firms co-director. We had no choice other than to sue to start trying to get people out of jail. In addition to people missing the holidays with their families, the taxpayers are paying to illegally house people in jail right now. 

Beleaguered Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman in 2015 moved hundreds of inmates to East Carroll Parish 336 miles away as his solution to an inadequate number of trained deputies. Court appointed experts concur that the Orleans Justice Center (new jail) was extremely understaffed with properly trained deputies. Gusman was forced to mothball much of the $150 million building until enough guards are trained and hired.

Where do these prisoners end up? River Bend Detention Center (RBDC) is located at 9450 Highway 65 just south of Lake Providence, Louisiana in East Carroll Parish.  The facility originally opened in 1995 with 202 beds.  The facility expanded in 2000 adding another 416 beds.  In August 2009 another expansion increased the total operational capacity to 1340.  It currently houses offenders for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections as well as pre-conviction offenders for local parish and municipal agencies.

Moving prisoners has proved very expensive for the City of New Orleans, who is responsible for the housing and transporting of the inmates. Prisoner families and the convicts’ attorneys are appalled that to see their loved ones they must now travel to Memphis, Tennessee. It’s hard for many families to make the 336 mile trek regularly.

Since the prisoners essentially pay the jail bills, the more inmates, the better, or so goes the logic in Louisiana. That’s a major motive for keeping prisoners in jail past their sentence dates.

 

New Orleans City Council Overhauls Bail System!

•January 15, 2017 • Leave a Comment

bail-sign

Hell has frozen over and pigs are flying.  Years late but not too soon, the New Orleans City Council, by unanimous vote, modernized the antiquated Orleans Parish bail system. If you were poor, you were put in jail. That is wrong on every level. Now, if you are charged with a nonviolent crime, and meet certain important conditions, you won’t be jailed, you’ll be free on your own recognizance.

This is a momentous time for the city of New Orleans. As I have said often, how we treat our most disadvantaged is a window into our morality. Of course, in New Orleans and around Louisiana, court fees and bail bonds pay for the sheriff’s salary. Less prisoners means a lower budget for the sheriff. You can see why they want a full jail.

Historically, Louisiana is the prison capital of the world. That’s a horrible distinction to own. Our incarceration rate is 5x Iran’s, 13x China’s and 20x German’s rate of incarceration.

This momentous decision came about after of months of wrangling and negotiation among council members, who were divided when this bill first came up in September of last year. The bill failed to pass then as the council deadlocked.

jail-bars-2

 

Presently, Municipal Court judges make the decision as to how much bail is assigned to a given inmate. The rate varies from $150 for small time offenses to $2,500 for more serious crimes. Prisoners are automatically released without bail for less than half the 35 different offenses the court handles.

Defendants who cannot pay bail go before a judge, who then makes the call about reducing the bond.

The new passed version is a much smarter bill than the September one. That’s because the council members consulted with judges and law enforcement officials in the interim. There are special rules for repeat offenders, no-shows, flight risks or those in imminent danger. The first bill was lacking many of these improvements, and the Municipal Court judges and many bail bondsmen opposed it.

If you are awaiting trial and get arrested again, your bail is revoked. If you have the cash on hand to pay your bond, you won’t have to pay more than $2500.

15 Year Old Inmate Kills Himself in Orleans Parish Prison!

•October 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Orleans Parish Prison

Orleans Parish Prison

When jailer Marlin Gusman was lobbying the city and the city council for his new jail a few years, ago, one of his main selling points was safety- for inmates and staff. Yet prisoners have been dying in jail, or inmates are released immediately prior to their death. This is the second suicide this year. Orleans Parish Prison has been under a federal consent decree for overall unconstitutional practices inside Gusman’s jail since June 2013. Conditions in the haven’t really improved.

 

Gusman in Jail

Gusman in Jail

Jaquin Thomas, 15, was found unresponsive in his cell by a deputy making a scheduled security round. Thomas utilized a mattress cover to hang himself. He was arrested July 24 for forcing his way into a Chateau d’Orleans apartment on July 21. His uncle, Tyrance Chancellor, was arrested with him for the same crime. It was Chancellor who told police that Thomas killed Hasahn Schawl.

From 2004 through 2014, 53 inmates perished in jail, or right after leaving.  That’s an astounding number. What are 15 year olds doing with grown criminals? That’s the definition of a bad influence. I’ve written about this subject before.

A study published in 2008 by University of Texas experts found youth in adult jails are 36 times more likely to die by suicide than those housed in juvenile facilities. Moreover, the article says, youth in adults jails are 19 times more likely to die by suicide than adult inmates. The data was cited in a 2015 report by the advocacy group Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights titled “Keep Children Out of Orleans Parish Prison.”

The following list of deaths in Orleans Parish Prison since 2009 was compiled by the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition  https://opprcnola.org/the-context/timeline-of-deaths-in-opp/

DEATHS IN OPP ~ 2009 to present

1. Jan 5, 2009. Cayne Miceli, 43.  ” After Miceli attempted to hang herself in an isolation cell, guards strapped her to a gurney in ‘five point restraints.’ …Her family filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, claiming the jail caused her death by restraining her on her back for hours, despite that knowledge that Miceli suffered from severe asthma.”

2.  Jan 12, 2009. John Sanchez, 54.  Police said Sanchez was intoxicated when he was arrested. He was put in an isolation cell to “sleep it off.” When deputies checked on him, he was found dead.

3.  Feb 6, 2009. Richard Rowzee, 44.  Friday, about 2:50 a.m., Rowzee “began to exhibit bizarre behavior,” according to […] the Sheriff’s Office. He was evaluated by medical staff and immediately taken to the hospital. Rowzee died at the hospital at 6:32 a.m.”

4.  May 3, 2009.  Michael Scimemi, 52.  A homeless man, sentenced to 30 months for stealing a can of beer, a pack of cigarettes and a box of candy. Reportedly died of heart disease.

5.  August 18, 2009.  Earl Gibson.  Lung cancer/renal failure

6.  Oct 10, 2009. Raymond Martello, 49.  “He was brought to the sheriff’s intake and processing center at about 10:30 p.m. Friday and did not appear to have any medical conditions or show any signs of distress during a standard medical examination. “At about 7:30 the next morning, he collapsed in a restroom at the intake and processing center.”

7.  Dec 1, 2009. Mary Hickey, 48.  Mary Hickey died […] after awakening in pain in an open women’s dorm at the South White Street jail and languishing for 30 minutes before help came and another hour before being taken to the hospital, according to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court.

8.  Jan 19, 2010. Richard Searce, 60. “Died of cardiac arrest Jan. 19 while in custody of the sheriff’s office. Scearce died at the Interim LSU Public Hospital, where he had been transferred for treatment of a urinary tract infection, Gusman’s office said.  Scearce had barricaded himself inside his … apartment… after receiving an eviction notice. He fired an assault rifle several times and set fire to his home, police said.”

9.  Mar 29, 2010. Chris Blevins, 22.  “An inmate at the Orleans Parish jail was stabbed to death by another inmate Monday and a second inmate wounded after being stabbed by a different man….Blevins…died during surgery about two hours after the stabbing during the jail’s midday meal.”

10.  Mar 29, 2010. Shedrick Godfrey, 48.    “Shedrick Godfrey collapsed midday Monday while working a community service detail with other inmates, according to a news release from Gusman’s office. He was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. of an apparent heart attack.”

11.  Apr 16, 2010. Michael Hitzman, 31.  “Hitzman, 31, killed himself in an isolation cell last April within hours of being brought into the jail’s Intake and Processing Center by a bail bondsman. An investigation by the sheriff’s office found that no employees checked on him for at least an hour, during which time he tied his shirt to bars in the cell door and hanged himself.”

12.  May 6, 2010. David O’Neal, 44.  “According to the Sheriff’s Office, which cited a preliminary autopsy by the Orleans Parish coroner’s office, O’Neal died from ‘acute myocardial infarction with sudden cardiac arrest as the cause of death.’ But family members who viewed a photograph of O’Neal’s face when they went to see his body at the coroner’s office said they doubted that conclusion. Lisa Christmas, a niece who was O’Neal’s next-of-kin, said her uncle’s face appeared swollen and bloody, making her wonder if he was beaten or ‘in a scuffle’ before his death. O’Neal had no history of heart problems, she said.”  “A guard said O’Neal was severely beaten by fellow inmates and suffered a laceration on the crown of his skull, most likely from a weapon.”

13.  Jul 17, 2010. Jose Nelson Reyes-Zelaya, 28.   “Jose Nelson Reyes-Zelaya had been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for one day when he was found dead after ‘apparent asphyxiation,’ according to a short memo released by ICE….According to the ICE memo, ‘deputies provided emergency medical care to him and called for an ambulance. Attempts to revive the detainee were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.’”

14.  Aug 7, 2010. Tracy Barquet, 25. “…in a federal court filing, the Justice Department noted that Tracy Barquet Jr. died in 2010 days after he was beaten and pepper-sprayed by guards. Barquet’s death remains classified as ‘undetermined’ by the Orleans Parish coroner….For Tracy Barquet Sr., his 25-year-old son’s death continues to raise unresolved questions more than two years later. Barquet said his son had a drug problem, but said he’d never had a previous history of seizures, one potential cause of death posited by the coroner’s office. The events leading up to his son’s death – including the alleged beating and pepper-spraying days before it – are troubling, he said.”

15.  Jan 8, 2011. Louis Alvarez, Age Unknown.  Alleged suicide.

16.  June 4, 2011.  Izell Henderson.  Liver cancer

17.  Jun 15, 2011. Maurice Williams, 42.  “The 42-year-old inmate…was playing basketball in the recreation yard when he collapsed and became unresponsive, according to the release.”

18.  Jul 28, 2011. Lawrence Hathorn, 51.  “Lawrence Hathorn, jailed on charges of drunk driving and violating parole,  participated in  morning roll call but was found unresponsive in his bunk  during lunch, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Mary Martin Fein of the Ehrhardt Group.”

19.  Aug 7, 2011. William Goetzee, 48.   “… the case of Coast Guard Commander William Goetzee’s suicide in August of 2011 is, according to DOJ’s letter to Sheriff Gusman ‘…an egregious example of OPP’s inadequate monitoring and supervision practices that contributed to his death.’… Goetzee was placed in a two-man cell on suicide watch with a guard ‘assigned to constantly observe his behavior to ensure he did not attempt to cause self-harm. The correctional officer left him unmonitored for five hours.’”

20.  Nov 1, 2012.  Earl E. Lodge, 55.  “Earl E. Lodge had been undergoing treatment for ‘metastatic cancer,’ Dr. Samuel Gore, the jail’s medical director, said in a statement.”

21.  Feb 7, 2013.  Ricky Russell, 26.   “Ricky Russell did not report for breakfast Thursday morning, according to a statement from Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, distributed by a public relations firm Thursday afternoon. Deputies found him unresponsive in his cell just before 5:30 a.m. in the Conchetta facility, where he was housed alone, and tried to revive him, Gusman said.”

22.  Mar 1, 2013.  Wardell Taylor, 36.  “An Orleans Parish inmate died of ‘apparent cardiac arrest’ at the jail on Thursday, the day he turned 36, according to a short news release issued by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office on Friday afternoon. Wardel Taylor died at the Interim LSU Public hospital, the release stated.”

23.  May 21, 2013.  John Alexcee, Jr. 50.  “According to a statement from the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Alexcee was diagnosed with metastatic cancer during his incarceration and died at Interim LSU Public Hospital.”

24. Sept 28, 2013. Clifton Morgan, 28.  “died of self-inflicted asphyxiation…in a holding cell across from the watch commander’s office.”

25. Mar 23, 2014.  Willie Lee, 40.  According to the Sheriff’s office, Lee “died of heart failure after getting into a fight with another prisoner.”

26. March 24, 2015, Ryan Miller, age 24, hangs himself with a phone cord. Miller’s attorney, Bruce Netterville, said that Miller’s mother “told him Tuesday that her son had informed jail officials that he was having suicidal thoughts and that Miller had been placed on suicide watch. ‘If that’s the case, what kind of operation are they running over there?’ Netterville said. ‘If that’s what (Miller) says he’s thinking, how do you put him somewhere where he can manage to kill himself?’

27. May 30, 2015, Charles Allen dies of a heart attack while in custody

28. November 15, 2015, Calvin Thomas, age 34 died of sickle cell disease while awaiting trial. According to his sister, “He’d been to the hospital more times than she could count for what she called a ‘sickle cell crisis,’ but he always came out of it. Her family learned Sunday that Thomas…had been in the hospital for some time before he was pronounced dead Sunday. The family didn’t know he was hospitalized until a sheriff’s deputy knocked on her mother’s door to tell her Thomas had died.”

29. March 7, 2016. Cleveland Tumblin, age 61, died “after he was discovered on Saturday attempting to harm himself with his prison clothes in a shower facility.”