15 Year Old Inmate Kills Himself in Orleans Parish Prison!

•October 25, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Orleans Parish Prison

Orleans Parish Prison

When jailer Marlin Gusman was lobbying the city and the city council for his new jail a few years, ago, one of his main selling points was safety- for inmates and staff. Yet prisoners have been dying in jail, or inmates are released immediately prior to their death. This is the second suicide this year. Orleans Parish Prison has been under a federal consent decree for overall unconstitutional practices inside Gusman’s jail since June 2013. Conditions in the haven’t really improved.


Gusman in Jail

Gusman in Jail

Jaquin Thomas, 15, was found unresponsive in his cell by a deputy making a scheduled security round. Thomas utilized a mattress cover to hang himself. He was arrested July 24 for forcing his way into a Chateau d’Orleans apartment on July 21. His uncle, Tyrance Chancellor, was arrested with him for the same crime. It was Chancellor who told police that Thomas killed Hasahn Schawl.

From 2004 through 2014, 53 inmates perished in jail, or right after leaving.  That’s an astounding number. What are 15 year olds doing with grown criminals? That’s the definition of a bad influence. I’ve written about this subject before.

A study published in 2008 by University of Texas experts found youth in adult jails are 36 times more likely to die by suicide than those housed in juvenile facilities. Moreover, the article says, youth in adults jails are 19 times more likely to die by suicide than adult inmates. The data was cited in a 2015 report by the advocacy group Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights titled “Keep Children Out of Orleans Parish Prison.”

The following list of deaths in Orleans Parish Prison since 2009 was compiled by the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition  https://opprcnola.org/the-context/timeline-of-deaths-in-opp/

DEATHS IN OPP ~ 2009 to present

1. Jan 5, 2009. Cayne Miceli, 43.  ” After Miceli attempted to hang herself in an isolation cell, guards strapped her to a gurney in ‘five point restraints.’ …Her family filed a civil rights lawsuit against the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, claiming the jail caused her death by restraining her on her back for hours, despite that knowledge that Miceli suffered from severe asthma.”

2.  Jan 12, 2009. John Sanchez, 54.  Police said Sanchez was intoxicated when he was arrested. He was put in an isolation cell to “sleep it off.” When deputies checked on him, he was found dead.

3.  Feb 6, 2009. Richard Rowzee, 44.  Friday, about 2:50 a.m., Rowzee “began to exhibit bizarre behavior,” according to […] the Sheriff’s Office. He was evaluated by medical staff and immediately taken to the hospital. Rowzee died at the hospital at 6:32 a.m.”

4.  May 3, 2009.  Michael Scimemi, 52.  A homeless man, sentenced to 30 months for stealing a can of beer, a pack of cigarettes and a box of candy. Reportedly died of heart disease.

5.  August 18, 2009.  Earl Gibson.  Lung cancer/renal failure

6.  Oct 10, 2009. Raymond Martello, 49.  “He was brought to the sheriff’s intake and processing center at about 10:30 p.m. Friday and did not appear to have any medical conditions or show any signs of distress during a standard medical examination. “At about 7:30 the next morning, he collapsed in a restroom at the intake and processing center.”

7.  Dec 1, 2009. Mary Hickey, 48.  Mary Hickey died […] after awakening in pain in an open women’s dorm at the South White Street jail and languishing for 30 minutes before help came and another hour before being taken to the hospital, according to the lawsuit filed at U.S. District Court.

8.  Jan 19, 2010. Richard Searce, 60. “Died of cardiac arrest Jan. 19 while in custody of the sheriff’s office. Scearce died at the Interim LSU Public Hospital, where he had been transferred for treatment of a urinary tract infection, Gusman’s office said.  Scearce had barricaded himself inside his … apartment… after receiving an eviction notice. He fired an assault rifle several times and set fire to his home, police said.”

9.  Mar 29, 2010. Chris Blevins, 22.  “An inmate at the Orleans Parish jail was stabbed to death by another inmate Monday and a second inmate wounded after being stabbed by a different man….Blevins…died during surgery about two hours after the stabbing during the jail’s midday meal.”

10.  Mar 29, 2010. Shedrick Godfrey, 48.    “Shedrick Godfrey collapsed midday Monday while working a community service detail with other inmates, according to a news release from Gusman’s office. He was pronounced dead at 1 p.m. of an apparent heart attack.”

11.  Apr 16, 2010. Michael Hitzman, 31.  “Hitzman, 31, killed himself in an isolation cell last April within hours of being brought into the jail’s Intake and Processing Center by a bail bondsman. An investigation by the sheriff’s office found that no employees checked on him for at least an hour, during which time he tied his shirt to bars in the cell door and hanged himself.”

12.  May 6, 2010. David O’Neal, 44.  “According to the Sheriff’s Office, which cited a preliminary autopsy by the Orleans Parish coroner’s office, O’Neal died from ‘acute myocardial infarction with sudden cardiac arrest as the cause of death.’ But family members who viewed a photograph of O’Neal’s face when they went to see his body at the coroner’s office said they doubted that conclusion. Lisa Christmas, a niece who was O’Neal’s next-of-kin, said her uncle’s face appeared swollen and bloody, making her wonder if he was beaten or ‘in a scuffle’ before his death. O’Neal had no history of heart problems, she said.”  “A guard said O’Neal was severely beaten by fellow inmates and suffered a laceration on the crown of his skull, most likely from a weapon.”

13.  Jul 17, 2010. Jose Nelson Reyes-Zelaya, 28.   “Jose Nelson Reyes-Zelaya had been in Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody for one day when he was found dead after ‘apparent asphyxiation,’ according to a short memo released by ICE….According to the ICE memo, ‘deputies provided emergency medical care to him and called for an ambulance. Attempts to revive the detainee were unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.’”

14.  Aug 7, 2010. Tracy Barquet, 25. “…in a federal court filing, the Justice Department noted that Tracy Barquet Jr. died in 2010 days after he was beaten and pepper-sprayed by guards. Barquet’s death remains classified as ‘undetermined’ by the Orleans Parish coroner….For Tracy Barquet Sr., his 25-year-old son’s death continues to raise unresolved questions more than two years later. Barquet said his son had a drug problem, but said he’d never had a previous history of seizures, one potential cause of death posited by the coroner’s office. The events leading up to his son’s death – including the alleged beating and pepper-spraying days before it – are troubling, he said.”

15.  Jan 8, 2011. Louis Alvarez, Age Unknown.  Alleged suicide.

16.  June 4, 2011.  Izell Henderson.  Liver cancer

17.  Jun 15, 2011. Maurice Williams, 42.  “The 42-year-old inmate…was playing basketball in the recreation yard when he collapsed and became unresponsive, according to the release.”

18.  Jul 28, 2011. Lawrence Hathorn, 51.  “Lawrence Hathorn, jailed on charges of drunk driving and violating parole,  participated in  morning roll call but was found unresponsive in his bunk  during lunch, said Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Mary Martin Fein of the Ehrhardt Group.”

19.  Aug 7, 2011. William Goetzee, 48.   “… the case of Coast Guard Commander William Goetzee’s suicide in August of 2011 is, according to DOJ’s letter to Sheriff Gusman ‘…an egregious example of OPP’s inadequate monitoring and supervision practices that contributed to his death.’… Goetzee was placed in a two-man cell on suicide watch with a guard ‘assigned to constantly observe his behavior to ensure he did not attempt to cause self-harm. The correctional officer left him unmonitored for five hours.’”

20.  Nov 1, 2012.  Earl E. Lodge, 55.  “Earl E. Lodge had been undergoing treatment for ‘metastatic cancer,’ Dr. Samuel Gore, the jail’s medical director, said in a statement.”

21.  Feb 7, 2013.  Ricky Russell, 26.   “Ricky Russell did not report for breakfast Thursday morning, according to a statement from Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, distributed by a public relations firm Thursday afternoon. Deputies found him unresponsive in his cell just before 5:30 a.m. in the Conchetta facility, where he was housed alone, and tried to revive him, Gusman said.”

22.  Mar 1, 2013.  Wardell Taylor, 36.  “An Orleans Parish inmate died of ‘apparent cardiac arrest’ at the jail on Thursday, the day he turned 36, according to a short news release issued by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office on Friday afternoon. Wardel Taylor died at the Interim LSU Public hospital, the release stated.”

23.  May 21, 2013.  John Alexcee, Jr. 50.  “According to a statement from the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office, Alexcee was diagnosed with metastatic cancer during his incarceration and died at Interim LSU Public Hospital.”

24. Sept 28, 2013. Clifton Morgan, 28.  “died of self-inflicted asphyxiation…in a holding cell across from the watch commander’s office.”

25. Mar 23, 2014.  Willie Lee, 40.  According to the Sheriff’s office, Lee “died of heart failure after getting into a fight with another prisoner.”

26. March 24, 2015, Ryan Miller, age 24, hangs himself with a phone cord. Miller’s attorney, Bruce Netterville, said that Miller’s mother “told him Tuesday that her son had informed jail officials that he was having suicidal thoughts and that Miller had been placed on suicide watch. ‘If that’s the case, what kind of operation are they running over there?’ Netterville said. ‘If that’s what (Miller) says he’s thinking, how do you put him somewhere where he can manage to kill himself?’

27. May 30, 2015, Charles Allen dies of a heart attack while in custody

28. November 15, 2015, Calvin Thomas, age 34 died of sickle cell disease while awaiting trial. According to his sister, “He’d been to the hospital more times than she could count for what she called a ‘sickle cell crisis,’ but he always came out of it. Her family learned Sunday that Thomas…had been in the hospital for some time before he was pronounced dead Sunday. The family didn’t know he was hospitalized until a sheriff’s deputy knocked on her mother’s door to tell her Thomas had died.”

29. March 7, 2016. Cleveland Tumblin, age 61, died “after he was discovered on Saturday attempting to harm himself with his prison clothes in a shower facility.”


Mayor Chooses Worst Possible Plan to Fund NOPD!

•October 19, 2016 • Leave a Comment

I am so done with the Landrieu family as a political dynasty. I’ve loved the Landrieu clan since Moon Landrieu was mayor in the 1970s. I voted for Mary each time she ran for the U.S. Senate, and Mitch had both of my votes as well.

When I first came to New Orleans to live after my wonderful Cornell experience, I met my wife in a free medical services clinic in the French Quarter that Moon Landrieu’s administration backed that was open two evenings each week. I had one single New Orleans phone number in my pocket when I flew here, for a Community crash pad. The crash pad had folded, but the number had merged with the medical clinic. I met my wife my first night in New Orleans and we stayed together 38 years, until she passed at Touro Infirmary a few years ago. Her name was Margaret (Meg) Lynn Pomeroy Eidler, and I will always love her.

So I am done, finished, kaput. I won’t be voting for any more politicians named Landrieu. Mitch ruined the family name for me. Let me state I’m a huge fan of NOPD because they defend our city from whatever comes.  And I’m certainly not mad at the police here, they need the money badly as in my opinion, they are underfunded.  But funding the police by doubling the red light and traffic cameras is a horrible idea.

NOPD Patch

NOPD Patch

The mayor has struck back after the response to his new initiative was met with a lot of negative reaction, stating that the only people protesting this plan are the ones that run red lights and speed in school zones. I take huge umbrage with his logic. I do not get tickets for running red lights, and I do not speed in school zones. 

My problem with the mayor’s horrible plan is it’s a naked money grab. These are tickets that cannot be challenged the way regular tickets can be.  The Louisiana Constitution and the New Orleans Home Rule Charter give the traffic court the power to resolve traffic matters, but the city’s automated traffic enforcement system takes away the courts’ authority.

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu

If you go to The Administrative Hearing Center on Perdido Street in downtown New Orleans to challenge these tickets, literally nothing good happens. They rubber-stamp your ticket and you are guilty. Pay up. If you want further recourse, you have to go to District State Court, and file a suit, which costs hundreds of dollars.  This basically throws the ticket getter out with the dirty water.

Want to up the misery quotient around town substantially?  Give New Orleanians  no recourse when they get a ticket. Where will all this new ticket money go? Most goes to out of town vendors who process the ticket for the city. To Tempe, Arizona specifically. That’s where you mail your request for a hearing.

The whole situation stinks to high heaven.

Angola Officials Pocketed $160,000, According to Internal Audit!

•October 18, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Another black eye for Angola, aka the Farm, aka the Alcatraz of the South, with two powerful officials accused of stealing big bucks from the prisoner’s recreation committee. That is low. Who got the money? Why, Paypal and Amazon, among other beneficiaries.  Convenience was at a premium with these officials- they used an ATM card billed to the committee repeatedly to pilfer funds. Who are these sterling individuals?  Former Col. Shirley Whittington and her partner in crime, Lt. Col. Deborah Leonard. Both have resigned and await indictment.

From Wikipedia–  It is the largest maximum security prison in the United States with 6,300 prisoners and 1,800 staff, including corrections officers, janitors, maintenance, and wardens. It is located on an 18,000-acre (7,300 ha) property that was previously the Angola Plantations owned by Isaac Franklin in unincorporated West Feliciana Parish, directly adjacent to the Mississippi state line. The prison is located at the end of Louisiana Highway 66, around 22 miles (35 km) northwest of St. Francisville. Angola is bordered on three sides by the Mississippi River. Burl Cain served as the warden from 1995 to March 7, 2016. Death row for men and the state execution chamber for both sexes are located at the Angola facility.

Two audits have discovered varying levels of nefariousness. An internal audit by the state’s correctional department pegged the theft at $160,000 while a legislative audit, which examined a shorter period than the correctional audit’s nine years, found $50,000 missing.

Angola Prison Rodeo Championship Belt Buckle

Angola Prison Rodeo Championship Belt Buckle

It was only one year ago that long time Angola warden Burl Cain had to resign after allegations surfaced that he had done business with a relative and an associate of two Angola inmates who were seeking special treatment.

Who set up the Employee Recreation Committee? Burl Cain. And even though there were safeguards in effect to prevent stealing, Cain has admitted he didn’t follow his own guidelines.

The Angola Prison Rodeo is world famous. It’s an institution unto itself. Apparently, it was also easy pickings for our crooked duo, who routinely shorted the concession deposits, grabbing an astounding $73,000.  Our chummy officials did business between each other, as one purchased a $5,000 Kawasaki four-wheeler from the other, using stolen funds to do so.


I’ve never been to the rodeo but I’ve caught it on YouTube, and it’s as entertaining and professional a rodeo as you’ll ever see. It’s as dangerous as any other rodeo is also, as can be clearly seen in the above photo.

It’s obvious that all this thievery has impacted the inmates, making it even more egregious. The prison swimming pool has been closed for entire summers and hasn’t been maintained properly.

Gusman Hearings Heat Up!!

•June 2, 2016 • Leave a Comment
Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Sheriff Marlin Gusman

It’s hard to believe things could be much worse in the new jail. The stories coming from the replace Gusman hearings in U.S. District Judge Lance Africk’s courtroom are tough to top.  All these new stories emanate from the new $150 million jail that Gusman claimed would correct most serious wrongs but didn’t correct anything.

Gusman had years to prepare for the move into the new jail, but apparently he didn’t use that time wisely. Inmates were seen using their hands instead of toilet paper. Stocking the new jail with the basics wasn’t accomplished by Gusman’s team in time.

You think that story is crazy enough? I’ve got a better one! How about an entire pod (60 men) naked as the day they were born? Talk about a Guinness book of world records entry for the biggest gay orgy ever! Right here in the new jail in New Orleans, Louisiana under the guidance of Sheriff Marlin Gusman!

Marlin says this is all a mistake, just blame everything on Mayor Mitch Landrieu, who controls the jail’s purse strings. If only the mayor give him all the money he asked for, things would be much better.  Money does control a lot, of course, but management means even more. Many jail guards, sheriffs’ deputies all, work two and three other detail jobs which pay better. This switches the allegiance of the guards to where the money is, and away from the jail. When inmates notice this, they act out more, as the leash has been loosened. According to the jail monitors, guards often didn’t appear to supervising the inmates. Watching TV and sitting at a desk are favorite activities of the guards. This is strictly a management problem- poor, poor guard training.

Hearings resume end of this week, when Gusman gets his turn to respond to his accusers. Should be fun.

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman





Justice Department Issues Blueprint for Taking Over New Orleans Jail!

•May 24, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Last month the Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Lance Africk to remove Gusman from day-to-day operations of the new jail. Now Justice wants to take over the jail.  Africk is holding a hearing on Wednesday, May 25 about whether to appoint an outside administrator or receiver, to run the just opened 150 million Orleans Parish Prison and remove Marlin Gusman of his power to operate the jail. Gusman called the Justices’ request insane and is hoping for another Justice meeting to stave off his eventual release.

Landrieu vs Gusman

Marlin Gusman vs Mitch Landrieu

Happy days are here again! I’m happy that Gusman is finally being hauled up before Judge Africk and the subject of the hearing is to remove Gusman from power. I’ve advocated this since way before the new jail opened. The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, or OPPRC, is holding a press conference before the hearing to demand real community oversight of our jail and an end to the violence at OPP, and compliance with the 1,438-bed cap of the jail. The press conference is 7:45 am on May 25, the morning of the hearing.

I’ve written up Gusman’s bad behavior many times before. You can read about his antics here and here.

The government’s proposal would task the receiver with drafting a remedial action plan within three months of being appointed. That’s a very quick schedule. Mayor Landrieu has supported the Justice Department bid and has wanted a federal takeover of the jail for years.

Landrieu is so sick of Gusman he can taste him. The mayor has accused Gusman of out of control spending, and Landrieu has stonewalled Gusman on some deputy pay raises. This has raised the temperature of the brawl considerably.

The government’s plan for the receiver has that office filing a yearly budget that gets input from a team of corrections experts monitoring the jail’s progress. The receiver plan would create a jail advisory board and quarterly public meetings that would bring in interested parties in the community. Quarterly public meetings that would allow access to the receiver by interested members of the New Orleans community would be held.

Gusman Shutters Half of New Jail!

•May 8, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Jailer Marlin Gusman is going to transfer 600 prisoners to East Carroll Parish and other jurisdictions. Gusman needs to retrain his staff to comply with the federal consent decree. This is a different move by Gusman, who has been touting the new jail as the solution to his many problems. For him to admit that his staff is a major problem is a sea change for the 4 time jailer. When the new jail was opening, it was the panacea of the century. It was supposed to fix all and any problems that existed for decades. Inmate coverage that was supposed to be spotless now turned out to be quite spotty. Huge training gaps in the staff became very obvious.

New Jail Under Construction

New Jail Under Construction

Recently an outside jail consultant told a federal judge the staffing crisis at Orleans Parish Prison predicated a partial closing of the new jail. Gusman has been roundly criticized for sending hundreds of local inmates to other prisons in North Louisiana, away from their attorneys, friends and family. It’s hard to hold court if the defendant has no access to the legal system. Gusman promises that he’ll ferry prisoners back and forth for court dates. That doesn’t sound feasible or realistic.

The jail has a problem holding on to employees as moral plummeted, training was inadequate, and the pay lagged way behind other law enforcement organizations around town. In response to this, Gusman revealed his new plan to send hundreds of inmates out of town for months or longer.

Old Jail in Treme

Old Orleans Parish Jail Near Treme

The sheriff has found it insulting that the U.S. Justice Department asked U.S. District Judge Lance Africk last week to appoint someone to replace him. Africk will hear arguments on this request later in the month. The sheriff is very unpopular with the mayor and the city council, among other city officials who find Gusman’s behavior puzzling.


Walter Reed Guilty on 18 Counts!!

•May 5, 2016 • Leave a Comment

How the mighty have fallen, and how careless are the mighty? It’s one thing for the formerly mighty (3 decades as north shore district attorney) to get convicted handily himself. But for his son, Steven Reed, to be convicted at the same time of lesser charges, is the height of bad parenting.

Walter Reed’s reputation as a lawman was tough- he was no friend of criminals. Reed left office in January 2016 and within three months of that he was indicted. Reed was convicted of 18 of 19 counts, and his son three of four. Yet he appears to be a very careless thief, taking $30,000 from St. Tammany Parish Hospital that hospital officials and the prosecution both said was intended for the District Attorney’s Office, not the District Attorney. He converted campaign contributions to his own private use and ‘forgot’ to claim the money on his federal income tax returns.

He didn’t hide his tracks very well. He took money from virtually any private or public source and put it in his own account.  Just that simple and illegal. You wonder what goes on with a man like Walter Reed, a seemingly honest to a fault public servant, who after decades, starts stealing like he’s entitled to it. He involved his son, a cardinal sin in life, it’s wrong on a thousand levels to involve your children in your illegal schemes. Let them make and learn from their own mistakes, not yours.

Walter Reed was a very powerful man in St. Tammany Parish, the epitome of a southern sheriff. How a man goes from that level of honesty to street thief I don’t know.

There is a rogue’s gallery of former Louisiana politicians that includes such luminaries as former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, now serving 10 years; former Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard in a federal halfway house after being convicted on public corruption; and we can’t forget former Louisiana Representative Dollar Bill Jefferson, who is serving 13 years. Now, Walter Reed has been inducted in the illustrious Louisiana Hall of Shame.


Walter Reed

Nagin in Jail

freakingnews.com  Jailbird Ray Nagin