Gusman Hearings Heat Up!!

•June 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Sheriff Marlin Gusman

It’s hard to believe things could be much worse in the new jail. The stories coming from the replace Gusman hearings in U.S. District Judge Lance Africk’s courtroom are tough to top.  All these new stories emanate from the new $150 million jail that Gusman claimed would correct most serious wrongs but didn’t correct anything.

Gusman had years to prepare for the move into the new jail, but apparently he didn’t use that time wisely. Inmates were seen using their hands instead of toilet paper. Stocking the new jail with the basics wasn’t accomplished by Gusman’s team in time.

You think that story is crazy enough? I’ve got a better one! How about an entire pod (60 men) naked as the day they were born? Talk about a Guinness book of world records entry for the biggest gay orgy ever! Right here in the new jail in New Orleans, Louisiana under the guidance of Sheriff Marlin Gusman!

Marlin says this is all a mistake, just blame everything on Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who controls the jail’s purse strings. If only the mayor give him all the money he asked for, things would be much better.  Money does control a lot, of course, but management means even more. Many jail guards, sheriffs’ deputies all, work two and three other detail jobs which pay better. This switches the allegiance of the guards to where the money is, and away from the jail. When inmates notice this, they act out more, as the leash has been loosened. According to the jail monitors, guards often didn’t appear to supervising the inmates. Watching TV and sitting at a desk are favorite activities of the guards. This is strictly a management problem- poor, poor guard training.

Hearings resume end of this week, when Gusman gets his turn to respond to his accusers. Should be fun.

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

 

 

 

 

Justice Department Issues Blueprint for Taking Over New Orleans Jail!

•May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Last month the Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to remove Gusman from day-to-day operations of the new jail. Now Justice wants to take over the jail.  Africk is holding a hearing on Wednesday, May 25 about whether to appoint an outside administrator or receiver, to run the just opened 150 million Orleans Parish Prison and remove Marlin Gusman of his power to operate the jail. Gusman called the Justices’ request insane and is hoping for another Justice meeting to stave off his eventual release.

Landrieu vs Gusman

Marlin Gusman vs Mitch Landrieu

Happy days are here again! I’m happy that Gusman is finally being hauled up before Judge Africk and the subject of the hearing is to remove Gusman from power. I’ve advocated this since way before the new jail opened. The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, or OPPRC, is holding a press conference before the hearing to demand real community oversight of our jail and an end to the violence at OPP, and compliance with the 1,438-bed cap of the jail. The press conference is 7:45 am on May 25, the morning of the hearing.

I’ve written up Gusman’s bad behavior many times before. You can read about his antics here and here.

The government’s proposal would task the receiver with drafting a remedial action plan within three months of being appointed. That’s a very quick schedule. Mayor Landrieu has supported the Justice Department bid and has wanted a federal takeover of the jail for years.

Landrieu is so sick of Gusman he can taste him. The mayor has accused Gusman of out of control spending, and Landrieu has stonewalled Gusman on some deputy pay raises. This has raised the temperature of the brawl considerably.

The government’s plan for the receiver has that office filing a yearly budget that gets input from a team of corrections experts monitoring the jail’s progress. The receiver plan would create a jail advisory board and quarterly public meetings that would bring in interested parties in the community. Quarterly public meetings that would allow access to the receiver by interested members of the New Orleans community would be held.

Gusman Shutters Half of New Jail!

•May 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Jailer Marlin Gusman is going to transfer 600 prisoners to East Carroll Parish and other jurisdictions. Gusman needs to retrain his staff to comply with the federal consent decree. This is a different move by Gusman, who has been touting the new jail as the solution to his many problems. For him to admit that his staff is a major problem is a sea change for the 4 time jailer. When the new jail was opening, it was the panacea of the century. It was supposed to fix all and any problems that existed for decades. Inmate coverage that was supposed to be spotless now turned out to be quite spotty. Huge training gaps in the staff became very obvious.

New Jail Under Construction

New Jail Under Construction

Recently an outside jail consultant told a federal judge the staffing crisis at Orleans Parish Prison predicated a partial closing of the new jail. Gusman has been roundly criticized for sending hundreds of local inmates to other prisons in North Louisiana, away from their attorneys, friends and family. It’s hard to hold court if the defendant has no access to the legal system. Gusman promises that he’ll ferry prisoners back and forth for court dates. That doesn’t sound feasible or realistic.

The jail has a problem holding on to employees as moral plummeted, training was inadequate, and the pay lagged way behind other law enforcement organizations around town. In response to this, Gusman revealed his new plan to send hundreds of inmates out of town for months or longer.

Old Jail in Treme

Old Orleans Parish Jail Near Treme

The sheriff has found it insulting that the U.S. Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Lance Africk last week to appoint someone to replace him. Africk will hear arguments on this request later in the month. The sheriff is very unpopular with the mayor and the city council, among other city officials who find Gusman’s behavior puzzling.

 

Walter Reed Guilty on 18 Counts!!

•May 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

How the mighty have fallen, and how careless are the mighty? It’s one thing for the formerly mighty (3 decades as north shore district attorney) to get convicted handily himself. But for his son, Steven Reed, to be convicted at the same time of lesser charges, is the height of bad parenting.

Walter Reed’s reputation as a lawman was tough- he was no friend of criminals. Reed left office in January 2016 and within three months of that he was indicted. Reed was convicted of 18 of 19 counts, and his son three of four. Yet he appears to be a very careless thief, taking $30,000 from St. Tammany Parish Hospital that hospital officials and the prosecution both said was intended for the District Attorney’s Office, not the District Attorney. He converted campaign contributions to his own private use and ‘forgot’ to claim the money on his federal income tax returns.

He didn’t hide his tracks very well. He took money from virtually any private or public source and put it in his own account.  Just that simple and illegal. You wonder what goes on with a man like Walter Reed, a seemingly honest to a fault public servant, who after decades, starts stealing like he’s entitled to it. He involved his son, a cardinal sin in life, it’s wrong on a thousand levels to involve your children in your illegal schemes. Let them make and learn from their own mistakes, not yours.

Walter Reed was a very powerful man in St. Tammany Parish, the epitome of a southern sheriff. How a man goes from that level of honesty to street thief I don’t know.

There is a rogue’s gallery of former Louisiana politicians that includes such luminaries as former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, now serving 10 years; former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard in a federal halfway house after being convicted on public corruption; and we can’t forget former Louisiana Representative Dollar Bill Jefferson, who is serving 13 years. Now, Walter Reed has been inducted in the illustrious Louisiana Hall of Shame.

 

Walter Reed

Nagin in Jail

freakingnews.com  Jailbird Ray Nagin

Justice Department Now Wants Jailer Gusman Out!!

•May 3, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The U.S. Justice Department has asked U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to remove elected jailer Marlin Gusman from office and appoint an outside administrator to run Orleans Parish Prison.  In 2013, the Justice Department argued in favor of keeping Gusman when Mitch Landrieu called for his ouster.

I’ve been after Gusman to resign since before the new jail was ever built. His jail has been unconstitutional for a long time. It’s particularly galling that the new jail, which was supposed to fix all the problems, has fixed none of them. The new jail is as unsafe as the old, and the the staff remains underpaid and of suspect quality.

What’s the sheriff’s comeback in the face of all this fierce criticism? He says he inherited the problems. That’s only fair the first year or so while a newly elected official is their honeymoon period.  Gusman is enjoying his third term currently. That’s not a newcomer, it’s a seasoned veteran!

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

The government re-intervened after the team of incarceration experts recommended that sections of the new jail be shut down until Gusman can get a handle on the numerous inmate attacks, which occur due to poor supervision.  Susan McCampbell, the lead federal monitor for the jail, stated, If it were up to us, we would close the facility floor by floor until it can be successfully operated.

At the same hearing, another expert, Justice Department attorney Laura Coon, suggested that the government had lost patience with Gusman and would be asking the judge to name a third party to end the jail’s unconstitutional practices.

Coon said the Justice Department and the Sheriff’s Office were not on the same page as to what steps were necessary to successfully reform the jail.

New New Orleans Jail

The Landrieu administration chimed into this discussion. Hayne Rainey, a City Hall spokesman said in a statement, It is in the best interests of our taxpayers and our public safety that the jail is run competently and constitutionally. It’s been almost three years since Mayor Landrieu began calling or Gusman’s replacement. The mayor acted after the public release of smuggled out videos showing inmates walking free on the streets of New Orleans, taking drugs, and playing with guns!

Gusman has commented, saying a federal takeover of the jail is not the answer. That’s exactly the response one would expect from the jailer, who remains on the hot seat no matter what he does. Gusman defended his staff and ordered another reorganization of his administration.

Danziger Five Accept Vastly Reduced Prison Sentences!

•April 21, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Egregious prosecutorial conduct was the causal factor in the sentence reduction. The five former New Orleans police officers involved in the fatal shooting spree in the crazy aftermath of Hurricane Katrina on the now infamous Danziger Bridge received major reductions in their draconian original sentences. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt agreed to accept the new terms and immediately sentenced the five men before a full courtroom and their victims.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Englehart

U.S. District Judge Kurt Englehart

In 2013, Engelhardt launched an investigation into the online postings of then U.S. Attorney Jim Letten’s office. He determined that grotesque prosecutorial misconduct had occurred. In August, a federal appeals court upheld his ruling, and the full 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused to hear the case.

Danziger Bridge Today

Danziger Bridge Today

The five men accepted much shorter sentences. They were guilty of horrible crimes like planting drop guns to make the unarmed victims seem armed and shooting repeatedly at unarmed victims. They deserved long sentences but the mistakes by prosecutors saved their necks. This is imperfect justice! However, there is a silver lining here. The long awaited civil trials can proceed now. That’s a very good thing.

The five men saw their sentences reduced from 40 to 10 years; 65 to 12 years; 40 to 10 years; 38 to 7 years; and 6 to 3 years. Here’s the gist of what occurred on that bridge 11 years ago. A group of cops drove up to the bridge in a commandeered rental truck, responding to a report of officers down and a loose description of a suspect. They fired a barrage of bullets from their personal weapons and service revolvers at a group of fleeing people, them falsely accused them of being armed, according to their 2011 trial testimony.

Kaufman, then a homicide detective, was accused of orchestrating a group whitewash, including failing to collect evidence, the planting of a clean gun and the creation of a false report that included testimony from made up witnesses that stated that one of the civilians on the bridge, Lance Madison, had tossed a gun into the canal. This was entirely false. Madison lost a brother on that bridge that day, and he was accused of trying to kill the cops. More manufactured baloney.

Bowen, Faulcon, Gisevius and Villavaso all could have received  life prison terms. The cops pleaded guilty to depriving the innocent shooting victims of their rights under color of law, obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. Kaufman also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to falsifying evidence, to obstruct justice and obstruction of justice.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Polite had this to say about this case-  while this is certainly an imperfect resolution, today’s proceeding ensures that these five defendants will be held accountable for their criminal actions. For these families and these victims, this case was never about one singular concept. It was about accountability. Nothing more, and most certainly nothing less.

 

U.S. Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr

U.S. Kenneth Allen Polite, Jr

 

 

Skirting Carnival Regulations and Other Negative Parade Trends!

•February 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Bagged Throws

Bagged Throws

I have always loved Carnival, from the first parade I ever saw to the last one last night. Really looking forward to my new costume wrinkles for 2016 and the fact that I’ll be heading to the French Quarter for the first time in a decade. I’ll be meeting up with my girlfriend Sue at Molly’s at the Market.

When I first came to New Orleans, the only real throws were short beads that had little plastic connectors. The photo below, Muses Rice Beads, shows the type of beads that were all in vogue at the time minus the Muses metal ‘M’. Medallions were timid little things, not the garish giants of today. There were also a number of Czechoslovakian glass beads.

Now, throws are very diversified. Blankets, light up beads of all description, koozies of all description, mini soccer balls and footballs galore, small stuffed animals of all ilk and variety, are just a sampling of the endless variety. Most come in it’s own plastic bag.

So all this junk made of oil is now wrapped in a bag made from oil?  Mardi Gras is getting grosser on an environmental level on an exponential level, and that’s a depressing and negative trend. How this came to pass is easy to explain. As throws got more expensive and complex, they warranted individual wrapping for ease of throwing.

Muses Rice Beads

Muses Rice Beads

In Orleans Parish, there are parade regulations passed by the City Council. Here’s the section on ladders-

Sec. 34-33. – Ladders and portable toilets.

All ladders used by parade spectators shall be structurally sound. No ladder, chairs, ice chests, chaise lounges, barbecue grills, and other similar personal effects shall be placed in intersections or between curbs of public streets during the pendency of a parade. Ladders, tents, grills, and other personal effects shall be placed six feet back from the street curb. Additionally, the practice of fastening two or more ladders together shall be prohibited. It shall be prohibited to use ropes or other similar items to create a barricade or otherwise obstruct passage along public property, unless otherwise specifically authorized.

When I used to see parades on Napoleon Avenue around Prytania Street, where they often line up, the police used to make sure all ladders were 6 feet back from the curb. Around town on Canal Street for Endymion and on St. Charles Avenue, it doesn’t appear the police enforce these rule anymore.

Ladders Too Close to Curb 2

Ladders Too Close to Curb

Ladders under six feet from curb

Ladders under six feet from curb

Empty Freret Float

Empty Freret Float

Most floats were full, but some, earlier in the season, were not. Paying for a float and not having any riders on it isn’t the best use of a krewe’s money. I am sure float riders are required to keep their masks on, and the vast majority do. Some parade captains feature less lax enforcement.

No masking in Orleans Parish parade

No masking in Orleans Parish parade