Group opposed to jail expansion invites officials, public to meeting
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Laura McKnight of the Times-Picayune reports that a group opposed to a possible expansion of the Orleans Parish jail is encouraging officials and the public to attend a town hall meeting on the issue, as the deadline for a decision approaches.
The meeting, hosted by the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition, begins at 4 p.m. Monday (Nov. 21) at 2022 St. Bernard Ave (NOLA.com).
The coalition is formed of about 10 organizations, including the ACLU of Louisiana, Family and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children and Women With A Vision (NOLA.com).
On Wednesday, the coalition sent an open letter to Mayor Mitch Landrieu formally inviting him to the meeting while also outlining the group’s reasons for opposing the proposed jail expansion, known as Phase III. To read the coalition’s letter in full, visit the coalition’s website (NOLA.com).
The proposed jail expansion stems from a requirement that the city, by Dec. 1, create a plan to improve conditions for special-needs inmates, including those with mental-health issues (NOLA.com).
Another option to meet the requirement: retrofitting the current jail, which just opened last September, to properly accommodate special-needs inmates (NOLA.com).
“We call on the Mayor’s Office to use its legal authority to commit to oppose any options involving the expansion of the jail, and instead support the option of a retrofitting of the current jail,” states the coalition’s open letter (NOLA.com).
The Dec. 1 deadline for a plan is part of an agreement brokered by attorneys for Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman, the U.S. Department of Justice and other parties after the Justice Department pushed for federal intervention at the jail due to conditions they deemed dangerous. The agreement avoided a potential total federal takeover of the jail (NOLA.com).
Inmates represented by the MacArthur Justice Center and Landrieu’s administration also pushed for a federal takeover (NOLA.com).
Since 2013, the jail has been under a federal consent decree spurred by a lawsuit over jail conditions filed by the inmates who are now being represented by the MacArthur Justice Center (NOLA.com).