Beaten Up In the Orleans House of Detention

How common is this? The numbers are unknown. When one is arrested, all kinds of prisoners are lumped together in the tank and first night out of the tank. Murderers, rapists, all sorts of violent criminal types are mixed with last night’s French Quarter and downtown pick ups for public intoxication, criminal trespass, old warrants, etc.- non violent folks generally. When a young guy commits some heinous crime in his neighborhood, the finality of his actions hits hard. He has erred for the last time for a long time. There’s very little likelihood of changing that with money for an attorney who has time for you, unlike the public defender who has absolutely no time for your case.

Let’s say 13 or 17 inmates are out of the tank and in the House of Detention sharing a room on one of the ten floors.  Many will be drug dealers/users of some type- pot, coke, crack, heroin, booze, meth, pills, etc.  Some get caught up in the police’s dragnet  because of old warrants and attachments, or questionable charges like criminal trespass or public drunkenness , or get arrested on probation or parole.  Maybe they are caught with a nickel, dime, or more.  A couple are accused of committing one or more violent crimes.  Most of the fights originate with these very unhappy violent youths.

So some random violent guy doesn’t like the way someone is looking at him, and the violent guy starts punching the other person. After a few well placed blows around the face, the fight ends as quickly as it began.  Often the fights don’t  happen in the group cell.  They occur when the group is called out of the cell to go somewhere.  While waiting, the group is handcuffed and often leg chained, and in very close proximity.

There are always a couple of Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Deputies accompanying the prisoners.  Since the fights are usually one-sided and end quickly, the Deputies don’t break anything up and don’t get involved.  The Deputies don’t punish the agitator as long as the beaten person isn’t seriously damaged.

If the fights develop into a full blown battle, the Deputies probably will be called to break it up. Then punishment should be expected. It doesn’t happen all the time. When a long time prisoner beats up a short timer, they usually leave the attack alone, with no report.

~ by neworleansmusicman on December 8, 2010.

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