New Orleans Parish Prison Finally Opens!
Hell has frozen over! Pigs can fly! Jailer Marlin Gusman got the OK from Mayor Mitch Landrieu to start shifting prisoners into the Crescent City’s new, Phase II, $145 million, super controversial new jail, and the first busloads of inmates drove through the big metal doors of new prison on Monday. By Tuesday afternoon, roughly 75% of inmates had been transferred. This will help Gusman substantially in complying with the federal consent decree that U.S. District Court Judge Lance Africk has been overseeing.
After numerous construction delays, inmates were transferred into the almost 1,500-bed, 4-story building. Landrieu had been withholding the necessary occupancy permit until Gusman changed his building plans to include housing special needs inmates on the second floor. There’s a city ordinance stating the new jail must be able to accommodate groups of inmates that require separate housing from the rest of the inmates.
Gusman has six months to take down the temporary tents he has used since Hurricane Katrina to house overflow inmates. Landrieu and Gusman have been feuding for months in and out of court over the new incarceration facility.
Gusman wants to build another jail, a Phase III building, which Landrieu is adamantly opposed to. Gusman says the additional building is necessary to house additional prisoners including mentally ill and special needs prisoners. Landrieu wanted space within the new jail to house everyone. He doesn’t want space for even more inmates.
The jailer called it the end of an era and said this has been a long time coming.
Good bye to the old Orleans Parish Prison building and the House of Detention, or HOD. Bye bye to Conchetta and Central Lock Up. The Criminal Court Building was built in 1931. The old Parish Prison was built in 1929, making it the oldest Orleans Parish Prison building.