Details Emerge about Viral Jail House Videos!!
Here’s an earlier entry I wrote about the 2009 jail house videos shot on a smuggled cell phone depicting Orleans Parish Prison House of Detention inmates guzzling a tall boy Budweiser, shooting up heroin, snacking on Popeye’s fried chicken, snorting coke, and brandishing a pistol, all without any Criminal Sheriff Deputies present.
A report put together by the Sheriff’s Department and D.A. Cannizzaro has been issued on this debacle. Apparently, no report was written in 2009, when the events took place. That seems odd. What these inmates did was highly illegal, and they should have been charged at the time it was discovered. Since the videos were played in Federal Court, 14 have been indicted.
While on the witness stand in federal court, Gusman didn’t remember very much about the videos. He later said he saw them on a very small screen, and thought they may have been doctored. No one else volunteered that opinion, however.
Other important factors are about to act on this volatile situation. Another report being issued this week was put together by three national consulting firms hired by the city to work up future inmate population and jail cost estimates. This report states that Gusman’s office is very understaffed, short more than 135 more deputies, over a dozen nurses, and other health care workers. That’s about $7 million worth of labor that isn’t accounted for. This is all from the Mayor’s people.
Another revelation in the report- the new, almost finished jail is too small to hold the projected 1,438 inmates it was built to hold. That projection takes into account the loss of 500 state prisoners and 66 Plaquemines Parish inmates held by Orleans Parish Prison via an expiring contract. Gusman has admitted his office is broke and the jail faces a multimillion dollar shortfall. The federal government already removed all of their ICE and Marshall Service prisoners, citing unsafe jail conditions.
One of Mayor Landrieu’s main accusations against Gusman in federal court is that his gross mismanagement and uncontrolled spending are responsible for the unconstitutional conditions at the jail, not lack of city funds. It appears his own report undercuts this argument. This won’t make the Mayor look good in front of Judge Africk.
Historically, the Sheriff isn’t very transparent when disclosing exactly how his finances work, as required by the City Council. The previous sheriff Charles Foti got away with murder here, and Gusman used to, but those day are over. Former U.S. Attorney Harry Rosenberg, who represents the city, asked the judge if he intends to ensure full transparency regarding the sheriff’s budget while the decree is the law of the land, No question about that, Judge Lance Africk replied. This exchange took place during a two day hearing this week on the sheriff’s finances. The final hearing, set for August 5, 2013, will determine how much the decree will cost and who should foot the bill.