More Fighting Over OPP Consent Decree!
It was a big week for the consent decree for the Orleans Parish Prison. U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk this week said, the consent decree is the only way to overcome the years of stagnation that permitted OPP to remain an indelible stain on the community, and it will ensure that OPP inmates are treated in a manner that does not offend contemporary notions of human decency.
I like Africk, he’s handling a tough case with the U.S. Justice Department, the mayor, and the jailer on different pages and sides of the three sided coin that alone makes the case fascinating and very unusual.
Africk approved the federal consent decree ordering massive changes at the jail to bring it up to constitutional standards. Africk will now preside over a hearing to determine the cost of the reforms and who will pay the bill.
Meanwhile, New Orleans Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux issued a report that says the jail has been adequately funded, and the jail’s deep problems that exist cannot be blamed on lack of funds. Quatrevaux says, the ‘root cause’ of OPP’s problems is a dysfunctional structure that gives the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO) a blank check (for per diem inmate payments) that the city must sign, and ensures that neither the city or OPSO can be held fully accountable for conditions at the jail. The jail will remain as it is until that structure is changed.
The way this situation has unfolded, whatever the Inspector General or the Mayor says, Gusman says the opposite. Gusman says Quatrevaux’ report is full of erroneous assumptions. Landrieu has balked at funding both the NOPD and the OPP decrees. He claims that the two decrees will cost the city around $55 million over the next five years, and that is beyond the scope of the city’s budget. Gusman says the mayor’s lack of leadership and underfunding is responsible for the deterioration of conditions at the jail.
In court this week, Gusman is supposed to tell the court about all of his funding sources and how he spends the money. This should be very interesting, as no one in the whole wide world has any idea how the Sheriff spends his money. As in any per diem situation, the more per diems you have, the more income you can spend. When the jail had 4,000 inmates or more, the Sheriff had a lot more funds. That’s the problem with the per inmate system, it encourages a fuller jail. Now, the jail holds no more than a couple of thousand prisoners, giving the Sheriff half the funds.
Where have all his prisoners gone? The federal government removed their inmates, claiming the jail is too unsafe. You can find them all around the region in other jails. That is ICE and Federal Marshall Service prisoners.
The OIG report says the city forked over $36 million to Gusman in 2011. That comes down to an astounding $46.26 per inmate per day, double what the commonly bandied about amount Gusman makes daily on an inmate. Whoa, that is a lot of money to pay a jailer who answers to no one but himself. That is a tried and true recipe for disaster and financial shenanigans, $36 million is a truly bizarre, wildly large number when New Orleans is so very broke. Gusman constantly complains that all his problems are related to lack of money. The truth is, his $46.26 per inmate per day kills that argument completely. It just doesn’t hold water when the real per diem is revealed.
The crowd surrounding Gusman is very vocal and the din around him must be deafening. He is in huge trouble and should resign, yet he solders on, without any shame for the horrible deeds that have occurred on his watch. The feds are about to indict him, that is a certainty. The next step for Gusman is the most difficult. The mayor is on target with wanting Gusman gone, but he’s going, so Landrieu should be a bit more patient.
~ by neworleansmusicman on June 15, 2013.
Posted in Federal Consent Decree, Federal Court, Judge Lance Africk, LA, Marlin Gusman, New Orleans, OPP, Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, Orleans Parish, Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff
Tags: Blank Check, Federal Court, Ice, Inspector General Ed Quatrevaux, Justice Department, OPP