Mayor Makes Huge Settlement Offer to Gusman!!
I didn’t see this coming, I didn’t think Landrieu had $54 million to spend on inmates. He doesn’t, but FEMA does. It’s a very attractive offer if you ask me. There will be no Phase III building if this plan succeeds and might end a very public, high powered war of words and action between the mayor and the jailer that has gone on for quite some time.
Why the mayor took until now to offer this relatively well rounded plan is anybody’s guess. Here’s how the plan divides up the $54 million-
$11 million- to demolish or renovate the remaining flood damaged buildings that the Sheriff’s Office owns.
$2.5 million- for a prisoner laundry.
$25 million- to reduce the sheriff’s bond debt on past construction projects.
$7 million- to build an additional 20+ beds at the Youth Study Center for very violent 16 or 17 year old suspects. This money isn’t from FEMA, and the city is very broke, so committing this money without a funding source strikes me as somewhat bad faith.
$3.7 million- to rebuild the holding pens for prisoners awaiting court appearances.
The mayor is also offering another $7 million to retrofit the fourth floor of the just opened 1,438-bed prisoner housing tower to accommodate special need inmates, such as mentally ill or sick inmates.
While the mayor and his team expect this financial bonanza for Gusman should stop all talk of a new building, apparently Gusman doesn’t feel the same way. I side with the mayor here, holy moly, all the money Gusman wants to spend on the new building can be spent instead complying with the consent decree so the jail can finally be declared a constitutional institution.
It’s true Gusman has around 1,800 prisoners now, and the new jail holds 300 or so less. The jailer has been given permission to keep open the temporary detention center, which holds approximately 340 prisoners, for an additional 18 months.
Tuesday Gusman was ordered to meet with Orleans Parish Criminal Court judges concerning the protocol he utilized in moving prisoners to the new jail this week. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, who is monitoring Gusman compliance with with prison reforms ordered by class action lawsuit that inmates filed, ordered the jailer to attend personally.
There have been problems with prisoners making timely appearances in court or showing up at all this week. I can understand the week the new jail opened and the old jail was mostly emptied might create a few scheduling nightmares. Just moving this many prisoners in a couple of days is sure to cause a few logistical difficulties. Gusman failed to notify the judges of this eventuality, getting him in hot water. The meeting is scheduled for September 26 in Africk’s chambers.