38 Orleans Parish Jail Deaths Go Unanswered!!
I cannot even fathom the pain a person’s family and friends feel when a loved one is arrested in Orleans Parish, and perishes under the ‘care’ of Jailer Marlin Gusman. Talk about unanswered questions being asked over and over again, with very few answers ever forthcoming. 38 inmates have died in jail since Katrina.
Recently many of the family/loved ones of slain prisoners showed up at a City Council meeting when Gusman was also present. The photos clutched by loved ones are incredibly incongruous. The pictures depict these lost souls at a happy point in their lives. There are no happy endings here- everyone in these photos died in jail.
When a person dies when it is their time, survivors have an easier time understanding what has happened. When my beloved wife of 37 years recently passed, she was in ungodly pain with a burst aorta. This is easy to understand- no one wants their loved ones to suffer.
Deaths in jail are impossible to comprehend. When folks are arrested, they aren’t supposed to die while incarcerated, but they do. Some manage to commit suicide while being on suicide watch. Another died in restraints, unable to breathe because her asthma was unattended. Other causes of jail deaths are ‘unknown’. What the heck does that mean? Orleans Parish Sheriffs’ Deputies, who run the jail for Gusman, are implicated in other deaths. There is no closure for the families without answers.
District Attorney Leon Cannizzaro refuses to pursue any of the jail death cases. He claims he doesn’t have the resources to investigate them. If a case is brought to his office by Gusman or a victim’s advocate, he will review it. I don’t understand Cannizzaro’s lack of interest in these cases.These deaths occur in Orleans Parish, and he is the D.A. for Orleans. I find his attitude here plainly insufficient.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu and five city council persons met with a core group of family members recently. I support this crucial dialog all the way and thank the Mayor and participating council members for taking the time to attend this important meeting. These grieving families also lobbied for the upcoming Consent Decree, as they are aware that true change within Orleans Parish Prison needs to come from Federal oversight. The families at least know that their cases have been listened to.
Long time civil rights attorney Mary Howell represents four families that have become advocates of reform. Each of the four deaths were “awful,” Howell stated.