Klonopin Psychotic Break Leads to 8 day Mental Hospital Stay!

•December 2, 2017 • Leave a Comment

I’ve always been a good sleeper. However, I had been sleeping very poorly since my wife died  after 38 years together. You sleep next to the same person for decades and you get extremely used to it. Eventually I sought out, based on my girlfriend Sue’s recommendation,  an uptown psychiatrist named Dr M, a very nice man. He prescribed a sleeping medicine- Klonopin

(Clonazepam). Among the prominent side effects- thoughts about suicide or hurting yourself.

 

After a few days on Klonopin, I was sleeping better, but my waking behavior was changing for the worst. One thing you learn from good parents and a long happy relationship is how to treat the opposite sex.  I always look for a substantial woman, and I don’t mean physically. Eventually, it’s a person’s psyche that holds your attention, that intrigues you, it’s her mind that I fall in love with.

 

Clonazepam has a long elimination half-life. Elimination half-life refers to how long it takes for half of a single dose of a drug to leave the body. For clonazepam, its elimination half-life ranges from 30 to 40 hours. This means that it will take between one to two days for just 50% of Klonopin to leave your system

 

Psychosis – The unpredictability of Klonopin abuse can cause several psychological problems, such as psychosis or depression. People may experience vivid hallucinations, become increasingly aggressive towards others, attempt suicide and even develop homicidal intentions. The brain sends and receives various signals throughout the body that control thoughts, actions and emotions: when the brain gets a dose of Klonopin, it starts sending abnormal signals that make people think, do and feel abnormal things.

All of a sudden, I had problems with my temper, and my usual rational thinking was deserting me. I love life like the next person, but under the influence of Klonopin, I began to thinking very negative thoughts. I wanted to commit suicide, and I needed a rationale to do so. From this point forward, except for me cutting my wrists, I don’t recall any part of what’s coming. I was driven to do this.  I got this all from girlfriend Sue. Three days of my life are a complete blank, except for 15 minutes. Again, this drug is very dangerous.

 

So I lost my temper, and for the first time in my life, punched and choked a loved one- my girlfriend of three years. After I knocked her down, I had all the justification needed to cut my wrists. So I left the girlfriend on the floor and went to kitchen and got a big sharp knife and cut my wrists. I’m right handed which led to deeper cuts on my left wrist. I was bleeding out and Sue called for an ambulance. Sue reports that there was plenty of blood all over the house.

 

I have virtually no memory of my 3 days as a monster. All I can recall is slitting my wrists, and I recall feeling very happy while cutting.  Via Klonopin I have blocked out 3 whole days of my life, except for the absolute low point of those days, cutting my wrists and almost dying. Sue has filled me into my actions over those days, and it wasn’t me, it was the pill. I love myself and would never hurt myself. I love Sue and I would never choke or punch her. Frankly, it’s frightening that your personality can be changed so drastically via a little pill that’s supposed to relax you.

 

I ended up at a local hospital where they stitched me up- 15 stitches, 10 in my left wrist.  Then I was taken to an uptown mental hospital (Community Care) for 8 days. This hospital was a short term facility. There were 5 floors of patients, The 3rd floor is where I went. The hospital averages 10-13 inmates per floor. Everyone over the age of 45 was on my floor. I was the only inmate with my circumstances-  bad reaction to a pill with slit wrists. Two persons were giving up heroin without any methadone- not easy.  Another 9 or 10 were mentally ill. Some were more ill than others. Some were released to a group home, not real freedom. Some were hardly sick at all.

 

Community Care  is a pill palace. Pills are distributed 4 times daily, 7 days a week. You go to the nurse’s station with a cup of water and get a half dozen pills. Mood stabilizers, tranquilizers, antibiotics if needed, sleep aids, vitamins, etc.  When checking out, I was prescribed Seroquel 60 mg twice daily and Buspirone 3X daily. For sleep I given 600 mg of Seroquel which works very well. Unfortunately, Seroquel is a very expensive drug  -$700-1,000 per month- , so I’m working with the Salvation Army and the United Way for some help. I’ve got at least a month’s supply of the Seroquel on hand, so I’m good for now.  I was also prescribed Depakote, which is also extremely expensive so I never got that one filled.  Where I will get a month’s supply in 45 days when I’ll need it is still unknown.

 

The truth is, I don’t feel any of these pills except the 600 mg of Seroquel I take at bedtime. I don’t feel good about taking so heavy a dose. If the house was on fire, during that first hour, I don’t feel confident that I could manage to get myself out of the house without falling. When I am in bed, after taking the Seroquel, it’s a bit uncomfortable. That feeling lessons during the second hour and for the rest of the night.

 

Most people take sleeping for granted until they have a sleep problem. Recently I have been sleeping 6-7 hours nightly which is excellent for me even though at the moment I am living with a friend and sleeping on his nice fold out couch.

 

There is very little active therapy in Community Care hospital. Each weekday afternoon,

I would see one of three shrinks for 5 or 6 minutes, at most 10 minutes. Once each week day, a thirty minute group was held. Topics ranged from 30 things to stop doing to yourself to general information about grief. The hospital had an activity therapist who brought her guitar and she would play music games like guess the song/tic tac toe. Her name was Meredith and she was a welcome distraction a couple of times weekly. She had a great smile, and smiles are in short supply on mental wards.

 

Cigarette breaks 4 times daily were a highlight of the day since we got to go outside for 10 minutes at a time. I don’t smoke so paced around the space back and forth 20 times. It was my only chance to get any outside exercise. Roughly 80 percent of all inmates smoke cigarettes. When leaving, my son dropped off two cases of cigarettes for the third floor. A day after I was released, I dropped off another few packs for another inmate.  I also dropped off $5 that I borrowed from an inmate during my stay. Cigarettes are big business in the mental hospital business. When you are in a confined mental hospital, you are at the approximate lowest point in a person’s existence. An extra snack or cigarettes can provide a high point in the inmates’ day. Packs are cheap when the inhouse cigarette machine is available.

 

Vending machines favored the inmates financially. A 12 can of Coke or Dr. Pepper was 50 cents, and a bag of Fritos or Doritos was 50 cents, but the machines were particular. One machine only took dollar bills and the other took only quarters. You had to have dollar bills and quarters if you wanted a cold drink and a bag of chips.

 

Inmates have trouble accessing their own money. For example, I had around $30 cash in my wallet, which was in a ziplock bag locked away in the nurses station on floor 3. During my 8 days, I could access only $15 of my money, and when I left, there was still a $5 and $10 bill in my wallet.  Why I got only half of my available cash over my 8 days locked up, I don’t know. $15 isn’t much money on the outside but on the inside it’s quite a bit of money. It’s true the prices of the cold drinks and Fritos are wonderful antiquated prices.

 

Visiting hours were a total of 2 hours daily, broken up into 2 sessions. It’s not much but if someone came to the hospital during non visiting hours, more often than not they got to come up and have a visit.  My son Joshua was my most steadfast visitor, coming 5 of the 8 days I was there. My step daughter Sharon drove Josh to the hospital a couple of times but never came up. My ex-girlfriend Sue came once.

 

I read everything available. That’s how I spent my enormous amount free time. I remember one great book. It was about Seabiscuit, a legendary racing horse from the 1930s. My family brought me newspapers, which I devoured.  I was a sprinter in high school and college and I won more than my share of races. I sort of identified with Seabiscuit.

 

From drugs.com–   Klonopin section

 

General

The most commonly reported side effects were drowsiness, ataxia, and behavioral problems.[Ref]

Psychiatric

Common (1% to 10%): Depression, emotional lability, confusion

Frequency not reported: Hallucinations, hysteria, insomnia, psychosis, excitability, irritability, aggressive behavior, agitation, hostility, anxiety, vivid dreams, hyperactivity, hypoesthesia, organic disinhibition, depersonalization, apathy, excitement, feeling mad, illusion, nightmares, sleep disorders, suicide ideation[Ref

 

The reason I’ve highlighted suicide is because it’s apparently a far more common side effect than I  thought it was. From 1 to 10 percent of users have suicidal tendencies? That is the worst side effect I have ever heard of. How can a drug be approved if approximately 3-5% of the population that takes Klonopin on average try to kill themselves?  

 

I landed in a mental hospital after beating up my beloved girlfriend and as a rule, when you enter the hospital, some event precipitated your arrival. That arrival generally ensures a rough landing into the hospital, where you are locked up tight.

 

You need an address to go when released. The hospital has to call the address and make sure someone answers. I landed a block from the Mississippi River, with a guy I’ve known for 20 years, and stayed with once before after my beloved wife passed. The house has its share of old building defects, such as the toilet and tub have partially sunk to the  floor below.  Therefore, sitting in the tub (there is no shower)  is a risky proposition, as is sitting on the toilet. These relatively stressless activities are now stress laden.

 

I purchased a mattress topper, as the mattress I sleep on is only 5 inches thick. The mattress topper came yesterday, and it improved my sleeping arrangements markedly.  

 

The 2nd floor apartment is 4 blocks from one of the most celebrated live music venues

In New Orleans. The  Maple Leaf  Bar is one of the top 3 clubs in New Orleans, along with Tipitina’s and Snug Harbor, in my opinion.  We live 3 blocks from Oak Street, as iconic a neighborhood shopping street as any in New Orleans.

 

About Community Care Hospital, I conducted an informal survey while locked down. Over the 8 days, I asked just about all the inmates about their education. Turns out I was the only college graduate which made me the only Ivy League graduate as well. There were about 40 or so inmates present in the facility while I was there, and approximately 10 or 12 at a time on the 3rd floor. Since it was a short term facility, there was no real education component.

 

                      Tipitina’s

I’ve been lucky in life. I had a good upbringing, with three big sisters and two excellent parents. My mom and dad loved each other to the end, and I learned from them. They both were in the Navy during WWII, in San Diego, which was a Navy town back then and still is. My dad was drafted but my mother enlisted.

 

I attended excellent public schools. I  grew up in Queens on Park Lane South until I was 8, then Searingtown, Long Island. Exit 36 of the Long Island Expressway.  

 

I graduated from an Ivy League College. I was lucky in love at Cornell.  Marcy, somewhat a wild child, became my girlfriend the first week. Smart, funny, great looking with an eighteen year old’s body. There was an immediate attraction. Our dorm was sponsoring a coed social and they played the classic Stones catalog. We both loved that music and started dancing. The first night we headed in her 67 yellow Mustang to the Cornell Apple Orchards- they were deserted completely. This was my crazy idea, At that time I was in the Agriculture School, and their marketing to me in Long Island included some photos of the orchards. The sex was a bit awkward to say the least but extremely memorable.

 

We started living sleeping together in a twin bed. We each had a roommate. We didn’t care what the roommate thought. We were young and stupid and in love.  We had to cuddle like mad to sleep to make it work, but we both slept like rocks after living the life of super busy Ivy League students. I ran track winter and spring and was in the college band playing sax and clarinet. Time flew by, and my third year was half over.

 

While at Cornell the first time I was researching my trip to New Orleans and I found a phone number for a community crash pad and kitchen, in the French Quarter of New Orleans. When I got off the airplane in New Orleans, I knew no one, and had $300. It was 1975. I called the single number I had and reached Suzy Steelman.

 

Suzy gave me Mike Stark’s number. She said he had  rooms available in the Faubourg Marigny. I didn’t want to shlep off, so I waited 15 minutes and I called Suzie back and told her I had spoken Mike who said they were full up. I didn’t know where Mike’s place was. It was fate that I would spend my first night in the Esplanade and Rampart Street apartment.

 

On the next call, Suzie told me about some rooms for rent at Esplanade and Rampart Streets, above Mistretta’s Auto sales. I felt that was closer,  it was Meg’s friend’s apartment. Some roommates had moved out suddenly, and a couple of rooms became available. I accepted her offer and moved in the apartment. Meg was living with her daughter Sharon in a S. Derbigny apartment. A few weeks later, Meg’s apartment was ransacked, and the house became unlivable, so she moved into the apartment where I was.  

 

My wife to be, Meg Pomeroy, RN, was working with Suzy volunteering at the community medical services. New Orleans mayor Moon Landrieu (father to Mitch Landrieu, current New Orleans 2 term mayor) pushed through a budget which paid for one doctor twice a week during clinic hours.

 

I met her that first night in New Orleans and was in touch with her during my first month. That first day,  had a hammock in my room and we lay together and cuddled and made out. The hour got very late and I stated it was time to fish or cut bait. She choose to fish.  After that we were living together, and I was lucky to get 38 wonderful years with her. For her last 25 years she worked at Children’s Hospital New Orleans,

 

I stayed three years with Meg and her daughter Sharon who was eight when I moved in-  If I stayed any longer, my Regent’s scholarship in New York would lapse. I couldn’t do that to my parents or myself, so I returned to Cornell to finish my degree. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree from the School of  Arts and Science and moved back to New Orleans and my steady squeeze Meg Pomeroy.

 

Meg was of Scottish descent, her maiden name was Anderson. The Andersons  are an old clan of Scotland. We were together for 38 years until she was betrayed by her body and died at 72 in Touro Infirmary in 2012. Her heart exploded. Death was extremely quick. I still love her, after several decades it’s hard to stop.

 

Meg was an extraordinary woman. I was lucky in love, that was for sure. She died a sad death in Touro Infirmary but that was out of her control.  It’s been 5 long years since her death, I realize more and more how rare and special she was. I still miss her daily. After 38 years, it is hard not to.

Three years after Meg passed away, I found found myself on a senior dating site.  I met Sue, and we hit it off. We were together for close to three years when Klonopin messed with our lives.  

 

As for my ex girlfriend, Sue,  I am seeing her on weekends. I’m going with her to see her family for Xmas.  Her sister Chris and her husband live in a tiny town in Mississippi where cell phones have no bars at all. Sue’s mother lives with them. We are going for Christmas in a couple of days. Satellite TV and landlines rule this extremely rural small town.

 

Merry Christmas to all!

 

After 3 years of cohabitation we are starting the relationship all over again. We are dating. It’s fun, but frustrating. Three years of love and happiness down the tubes, but there is a fast track back. Sue wants to speak to my shrink, the doctor who prescribed me Klonopin and if he certifies me as normal again, which I certainly am, as I’m getting enough sleep and Seroquel has no adverse side effects for me.  

 

Spent last night at Sue’s, it was divine spending 2 days with her. I went to her family Christmas party outside of Jackson, MS, yesterday in a very rural area where cell phones get no reception at all. Sue’s mom is still alive, which is wonderful for me, as my folks died in the 1990s. Seeing Sue this Friday for a movie date. I think the world of her big family and they like me just as much.

 

                                      Anderson Clan

 

My first job in New Orleans was working at Audubon Zoo in the Hoofstock area.  Giraffes, rhinos, hippos, antelope, deer, etc. This was a hard job physically but it was very memorable. Met a landscaper at the zoo named Mike Dianda, and we are still friends today. We zookeepers would enter the animal pens to pet the creatures and hang out. We especially like the two rhinos, Willy and Jesse. They were from South Africa and we had to quarantine their poop. No joke.

 

I left the zoo to finish up my Cornell degree. It was a sad but adventurous time. I was in love with my girlfriend Meg and her daughter Sharon, so I knew I would be returning to them when I finished my degree. After Cornell I came back to New Orleans and Meg and Sharon. It turns out the physics lab at Cornell burned down my last semester, and I got an incomplete in physics. I took my last three credits at Loyola University on St Charles Avenue during summer 1985. I was 23 years old and already was hooked on New Orleans’ charms.

 

I started writing resumes for one of the biggest nationwide companies. This was the early 1980s. The Louisiana oil patch was in the throes of a big economic downturn, so many laid off oilfield workers needed updated and better looking resumes. This gave my resume business a big kick forward. These were relatively fancy resumes which customers would pay $200 or more for. The resumes were successful, and word of mouth referrals helped business considerably. My step daughter Sharon Pomeroy was my secretary for much of my resume writing career.

 

I eventually moved in the music business and made a lasting impact by bringing to New Orleans a music publisher from California who loved New Orleans roots music as much as I did. He paid big bucks for three iconic New Orleans musicians- Professor Longhair, James Booker and Earl King. That fixed the legacies of  2 of those artists, who died poor.

 

I’ve toured New Orleans brass bands and blues men to the biggest music festivals in Europe and Scandinavia- North Sea, Montrose, Pori and Umbria. These four are on a par with our own New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Artists include James Andrews and Trombone Shorty, Irma Thomas, Algiers and Treme Brass Bands, and many other bonafide New Orleans music talent.

 

To meet the right world buyers of Louisiana talent, I devised a trade show marketing program to market myself, my roster, New Orleans and Louisiana. We often sponsored a booth while attending 2 big music American trade shows and 2 in Europe. The 4- New Music Seminar, New York City; South by Southwest, Austin, Texas; Berlin Independence Days; and MIDEM in Canne, France.

 

I threw invitation only parties for Louisiana buyers. I brought Crawfish Etouffee and Seafood Gumbo prepared in New Orleans and frozen in convenient heavy 3.5 pound foil pans, I purchased and made the rice at the show and also brought and served the rum at the show, after mixing it with Pat O’Brien’s Hurricane Mix  which I purchased in New Orleans. I decorated the party with purple, green and gold Mardi Gras decorations. Our parties were well attended by the top cream of the show.  Real seafood entrees served in sample sized bowls, along with real Pat O’Brien Hurricanes, with Mardi Gras decor.

 

Often we would talk to a busking New Orleans groups about performing at these trade shows, highlights included  in Europe, David and Roselyn and once even Cowboy Mouth appeared live in Cannes, France. Cowboy Mouth played an acoustic set daily at the booth, and David and Roselyn played the nighttime party.

 

At the trade show booth, I would give away lots of Mardi Gras beads, and hot stamped cups embossed with trade show date and logo. I would carry the beads in a large wicker basket which I would turn on it’s side for the trade show giveaway. I hung a sign on the basket stating Free Beads. We carried a lot of record samples in those days, and later CDs. We ran our own video marketing program, with recorded shows of the Nevilles, Fats, and the Radiators playing non stop during show hours.  

 

A month before the convention, we busily faxed out invitations to our party and a  business meeting on the trade show floor. I would target Louisiana music buyers around the globe. It worked, we did a lot of business with Louisiana buyers.

 

I had a client who represented 90 ninety second vignettes all about wine. It was hosted by a local chevallier.  We produced a boxed set, containing a booklet with 2 videos. We attended a TV merchandising convention in Chicago, and as a result of this trade mission, we cut a deal with TV juggernaut QVC. On Valentines’ Day, we debuted on QVC. We sold out in 10 minutes the thousand units QVC ordered. They reordered immediately. I recall being amazed at the high production values on the 3 minute segment they produced to sell the boxed set. My partner was the late Eddie Kurtz.

 

I purchased a mattress topper, as the mattress I sleep on is only 5 inches thick. The mattress topper came yesterday, and it improved my sleeping arrangements markedly.  

 

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About 1,400 Convicts to be Released From Jail Due to New Law!

•October 25, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Starting November 1, 2017, inmates will be released to the parish where they were convicted. The 10 bills of the Louisiana Justice Reinvestment  Package should save the state approximately $265 million over 10 years by lowering state jail totals by roughly 10%. This is according to the secretary for the Department of Public Safety and Corrections, Jimmy Le Blanc.

This is big. It’s a new day in Louisiana. When Governor John Bel Edwards offered this package it garnered bipartisan support. Many faith and business communities backed this bill also. For the last few decades, the legislature and the governor have seen eye to eye about prisoners. The longer the sentence, the better. It turns out that is a very expensive proposition, and way too expensive for a legislature that hates to spend money period.

Act 280 states that when a violent offender completes 35% of his/her sentence, the convict is eligible for parole. Up to this point, the standard has been 40%.

This is big. It’s a new day in Louisiana. When Governor John Bel Edwards offered this package it garnered bipartisan support. Many faith and business communities backed this bill also. Historically, Louisiana locks people up, and throws away the key. Now, they are letting inmates out of the pokey? Why is this happening? One major factor is cost. Running jails is an expensive proposition, but the cost to the inmates family is immense. The further away an inmate is from his family and the longer his sentence, the worse the family and inmate do.

There are very immediate concerns. No system has been instituted to handle this new flow of inmates coming out of jail. Corrections officials are very circumspect when releasing inmates. The absolute one thing that can never occur is the wrong inmate is released.

Louisiana Act 280 states that when a violent offender completes 35% of his/her sentence, the convict is eligible for parole. Up to this point, the standard has been 40%. Le Blanc has said that when an inmate serving a 10 year sentence would be getting out an average of 63 days early. Gee whiz. That’s not much of a reduction.

Steve Prator, Caddo Parish Sheriff, disagrees with early release. During a recent news conference, he brought up a name on the list, a man who had been arrested 52 times for dozens of crimes, including manslaughter, and was getting out seven years early. The real question is, how long has he been in jail and how is his rehabilitation (if any) going? If he is doing well, let him out. If not, keep him locked up.

Secretary James M. Le Blanc has worked for the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections for more than 40 years. He has served the past nine years as Secretary, being appointed to the Cabinet position by two governors.

Le Blanc enlisted in the United States Army and served during the Vietnam War. After an honorable discharge in 1971, he returned to school and received a B.A. in Business Administration from Southeastern Louisiana University in December 1972.

Jimmy Le Blanc

His career in corrections began in 1973 at Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women. Le Blanc promoted through the ranks, serving as Undersecretary (1992-1995), interim Director of Probation and Parole (1998-1999), Warden at Dixon Correctional Institute for 12 years, and Acting Chief of Operations (2007).

Secretary Le Blanc’s commitment to Louisiana’s justice system includes a focus on the fundamental importance of public safety while giving all citizens the opportunity to live productive lives. He routinely emphasizes “reentry” as a major factor of the Department’s mission. Reentry is his passion. Le Blanc believes that establishing valuable, real-world vocational, educational and life skills training for offenders in all institutions is one of the keys to ensuring the core mission of public safety. Reducing Louisiana’s number one (in the world) incarceration rate is a tall order, but Le Blanc’s enthusiasm for seeing offenders succeed is all the motivation this leader needs.

His many awards include being selected as the National Association of Wardens and Superintendents (NAAWS) “Warden of the Year.”

In my opinion, Le Blanc and the Governor of Louisiana, John Bel Edwards, are certainly doing the right thing here. The tip of my proverbial hat to both gentlemen, and the Louisiana legislature.

Inspector General Resigns Amid Allegations of Wrongdoing!

•October 22, 2017 • Leave a Comment

With the credibility of the New Orleans IG office at stake, the usual calm that has pervaded that office is long gone, replaced with considerable confusion. I feel a deep sadness that Ed Quatrevaux, a man I have written about a lot over time favorably, has been forced to resign under duress. Any public office such as the Orleans IG office where infighting this toxic and bitter has been damaged. It’s reputation has been self-sullied. That hurts the IG office, since it’s reputation must be beyond reproach if the IG’s reports can be believed by the public it serves.

I have followed the IG career of Ed Quatrevaux and he seems a straight shooter above reproach. He has done the right thing through thick and thin to say the least. He stands tall among men in public service with the highest integrity, in my opinion. I don’t think he sold out as Schwartz has alleged. The opposite is probably the case.

https://watchopp.wordpress.com/2011/08/03/traffic-court-has-gone-stir-crazy/

Former IG head Ed Quatrevaux in happier times

A top deputy of Quatrevaux, Howard Schwartz, who has been named the interim replacement of the IG office, alleges corruption and mismanagement in the IG’s office. Quatrevaux has struck back, accusing Schwartz of a conflict of interest and showing extreme bias by essentially writing a false report damning Quatrevaux, in order to replace him at the top post. Quatrevaux says many of the IG office employees who spoke out against him have been coerced into speaking out against him by Schwartz. Nadiene Van Dyke, another top deputy of the office, was also pummeled in Schwartz’s report and is expected to retire in the near future.

New Orleans has been reborn several times throughout its recent history. That’s a good thing, keeping up with the times. But when the inspector general’s office falls under this degree of political intrigue, things are not good at all. It is frightening. Not this office under this political spotlight. This is a bad thing, have no doubt of it. Quatrevaux is probably innocent.

Nadiene Van Dyke

This very bitter infighting in the IG’s office is very surprising and was unheard of during Quatrevaux’s years running the office. The Ethics Review Board is standing behind Schwartz in this dispute. Other leaders are standing with Quatrevaux and his charge that Schwartz’s complaints are politically motivated- Schwartz is gunning for Quatrevaux’s job.

Ann Skeet, of the Markklula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University mentioned setups where one worker sabotages another’s chances through false accusations, as Quatrevaux accused Schwartz of doing to Van Dyke. It’s is word against another’s word, or he said and he or she said. According to City Councilman Jared Brosset, who said he authored the ordinance to separate the Independent Police Monitor’s Office from the IG Office precisely because of such infighting. Why would you release Swartz right before you are about to leave office yourself? He doesn’t want him to get the position. Skeet has also said with this much mud thrown against Quatrevaux some is bound to stick, regardless of the truth.

Skeet also said, the law might be changed to improve the rules for succession. The board might also, in the short term, consider sanctioning Quatrevaux for what appears to her to qualify as misconduct. At some point, the board might decide it needs to reset the culture in order to restore public trust. And they may decide that means bringing in somebody fresh or brand new, so no one can say that there was a taint or a hangover from whatever these decisions are.

Skeet also made some other telling statements. Skeet did say that at some point, the board might decide it needs to reset the culture in order to restore public trust. And that may decide that means bringing in somebody fresh or brand new, to no one can say that there was a taint of a hangover from whatever these decisions are. 

Susan Guidry, New Orleans City Councilman, however defended Quatrevaux and dismissed the idea that Schwartz should be appointed IG, though she did agree that Schwartz’s claims should be reviewed by a third party. Guidry said, I do not believe it is wise to appoint an interim inspector who is currently embroiled in controversy. Our current IG has saved our city millions over his tenure and I have no reason to question his judgement. I have to agree with Ms. Guidry here. He has been a fabulous, hard working IG for years.

Councilwoman Susan Guidry

Councilwoman Susan Guidry

A path forward might include revisions to city laws to give the ethics board more oversight of the offices activities, said Miller. Miller picked Schwartz for the interim post.

A local lawyer, David Marcello, has asked for serious changes on the board, said a peer review need to be completed every three years, with another review annually, to ensure the boards decisions are sound and not politically motivated. Marcello also said IGs need to write up succession plans regularly in advance.

Is Quatrevaux guilty as suggested? My gut feeling is will be vindicated. I think the evidence him is fabricated by Schwartz and his team. Time will tell. Good luck to Quatrevaux and his office.

New Orleans Jailer Makes Positive Move to Reduce Jail Population!

•July 19, 2017 • Leave a Comment
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

 

Marlin Gusman is on the hot seat. He’s got a brand new jail but inmate deaths, and other large problems hound him. In an attempt to fix matters before things get any worse, Gusman has hired a public defender client advocate and Loyola University graduate to attempt to reduce prison population by 21 percent within 24 months. That is hefty but doable plan. The new employee will determine where to house inmates when the jail is full; identify inmates that may safely be released; and hasten court processing in matters that have been unduly delayed, according to a sheriff’s office news release issued earlier this week.

Virginia B. Ryan will serve as Justice System Administrator for the sheriff’s office. The job was created using funds from a $1.5 million grant awarded to the sheriff’s office by the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to lower the jail’s population and reduce purported racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system nationwide, according to the news release.

Ryan graduated from Loyola with a degree in sociality, then in 2010 joined the Orleans Parish Defender’s Office as a client advocate. According to the news release, Ryan works for the wrongful-conviction nonprofit Resurrection after Exoneration organization.  Over the last few months, federal court officials and inmate advocates  have pressured Ryan’s boss, Gary Maynard, to hire key staff positions that been unfilled of late, in light of the raft of multiple jail suicides that have once again hounded Gusman again.

New Hiree Virginia Ryan

We’re pleased to have someone with Virginia’s experience join our team, Maynard wrote in the news release.  She has a strong working relationship with our criminal justice partners, so we anticipate that she will have an immediate impact on our ability to navigate cases through the criminal justice system more equitably.

This is all very good. Gusman’s performance has been very spotty on a lot of levels for a long time, and this move finally might steer him in a better direction. The first job of a boss is to hire the most competent staff possible, and then let them do their jobs.

Ryan comes at a very needed time for Orleans Parish Prison. Public Defender funding has been cut severely and in April, nine former and current New Orleans public defenders took to 60 Minutes to rail against the budget reductions, which they believe causes unwarranted imprisonment of innocent people because public defenders were too overworked to properly defend them.

Probation Officers’ Workloads Continue to Grow, Grow, Grow!

•July 16, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Our esteemed Governor John Bel Edwards recently signed a group of bills overhauling criminal sentencing guidelines and laws. Edwards believes this group of bills will lead to a 10% reduction in the state prison population over the next decade, plus a decrease in crime rates. Thank you Governor Edwards for your excellent leadership here.

An estimated 1,200 extra  inmates will be released on probation or parole within 2 years due to these new sentencing reduction laws.  Most of the probation workers support these new laws, even though it will increase their workload substantially. The probation officers believe these new measures will lower recidivism, eventually reducing officers’ work loads. But for the immediate future, the opposite is true, even though probation and parole resources won’t get any additional support.

This decrease in services and additional cases could lead to staff leaving the department, which would generate more work for each officer.

Low pay, giant caseloads and the stressful nature of the job means job attrition rates have always been high. A new probation officer earns $30,056, which hasn’t changed since 2007. Our neighboring state of Texas starts their probation officers at $39,700 and Mississippi pays 36,200.

According to New Orleans District Supervisor Richard Berger, when (officers) are leaving at such a fast rate, a lot of times people get set aside, and they’re not getting the services they should because we can’t shuffle them around enough. This leaves to very high officer attrition rate, as the grass really is greener in nearby states. Salaries are far higher for comparable jobs in Louisiana also. At the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries , an officer’s starting salary is $46,612. That is 50% higher than the starting salary for a probation and parole officer. Th

Probation and Parole Gear

New Iberia District Supervisor Danny Barras told lawmakers during a recent hearing, you used to be able to pay your bills. Lawmakers got the message, the state budget that started July 1 authorizes a 2 percent raise to probation and parole officers. That starts immediately. In January, roughly half will be getting an additional pay bounce of $3,362. In 2018, the starting salary moves up to $34,632 which is still less than neighboring states but at least we are making progress in the right direction.

Probation and parole caseloads average 175 cases per worker, which is sky high. Recently this dropped to 150 with the hiring of 20 officers statewide.

Body Cameras Stay Home on Cops’ Second Jobs!

•June 14, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Cameras are mandatory for their first jobs, of course. An Associated Press poll of the 20 biggest cities in America found that only five have rules requiring them to wear them during moonlighting work. New Orleans is not one of the five. Police Departments say there are too many logistical hurdles and costs to contend with. I don’t think those reasons are very good ones. It’s important in today’s world that police are accountable every minute they are on the street wearing a sidearm and or their uniform.

New York City, Los Angeles, Charlotte, Columbus, Chicago, Phoenix, San Diego, Dallas and Philadelphia have no department requirement requiring cops on second jobs to wear their cameras. Nevertheless, virtually all police departments have regulations stating that off duty cops still represent the department and the city and are subject to police regulations when they are moonlighting. Many times, off duty cops are the nearest to some calamity and are the first responders. When trouble erupts, it doesn’t matter if the officer is on or off duty.

In Louisiana, a off duty cop who didn’t have his camera on was sentenced to 40 years in jail for manslaughter for the death of a 6 year old following a car chase. The case hinged on an on-duty officer’s body camera which depicted the boy’s father had his hands up and sticking out of his window when the former officer and the moonlighting officer together fired 18 shots. After the barrage ceased, the footage shows the officer’s realization that the child was in the passenger seat.

Atlanta, Cincinnati, and Minneapolis are among the cities requiring off duty cops to wear their cameras. Cincinnati police Captain Doug Wiesman says it’s a mistake not to have them. Your officers are wearing their uniforms, who cares who is paying them? That is an excellent point.

170 departments have received U.S. Justice Department grants for body cameras. It is hard to find any mention of equipping moonlighting officers, according to Michael White, who works with those cities on technical assistance and training. It’s an evolving issue, but I think it’s something departments will need to start addressing, said White, who is also a criminology professor at Arizona State University. It should be part of the uniform just like anything else.

Prison Reform Package Passes Louisiana House and Senate!

•June 10, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Orleans Parish Prison

Hell has indeed frozen over, because all 10 bills in the huge overhaul of the state’s criminal justice system passed both legislative chambers and the governor has signaled his willingness to sign the bill into law. Why now? I guess the legislature is finally tired of Louisiana’s well deserved but unwanted designation as the most highly incarcerated state in America.

While celebrating with jubilant member of the legislature, the Governor said in a statement, today’s progress on the criminal justice reform package coming out of both chambers demonstrates that we can find bipartisanship and collaboration among our elected leaders in Louisiana on tough initiatives that prioritize the best interests of our people. I am proud of the Legislatives’ work on these historic bills and look forward to signing them into law when they make it to my desk.

What is really going on here? It seems our esteemed governor Edwards is just following through on one of his main campaign promises, to reduce Louisiana’s world’s highest incarceration rate. For too long, Louisiana has had the ignominious distinction of having highest incarceration rate in the nation, Edwards said, We will soon begin to reverse that trend very soon. 

According to the Pew Institute, the implementation of all ten bills will reduce Louisiana’s prison population by 10% over the next 10 years. The savings created by the state no longer housing so many inmates is projected to be approximately $262 million, of which 70%  has been earmarked for programs that support victims and rehabilitate offenders.