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Sheriff Marlin Gusman Wins our Praise…….

Here in New Orleans, Orleans Parish Sheriff Gusman has taken a stand that wins him the praise of many and the scorn of just as many others.  Sheriff Gusman said recently that his refusal to hold non-violent illegal immigrants in prison after they finish their sentences is about “freedom and fairness,” as well as fiscal prudence.  Count us in as those who praise the Sheriff on this issue.

On August 13 Sheriff Gusman announced that his department will no longer honor Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requests to voluntary detain inmates, unless they are charged with violent felonies, and that they won’t “initiate any immigration status investigation into any individual in Orleans Parish Sheriff Office custody.”

The Sheriff’s stand won him the scorn of Senator David Vitter.  NOLA.COM reported recently that Senator Vitter wrote a letter to  the Sheriff stating that the sheriff’s new policy violates federal law and, if continued, would make it more difficult for the sheriff to seek federal funds to implement a consent decree with the federal government.

We praise the Sheriff ’s response to Vitter. Sheriff Gusman writes, “Our policy is about freedom and fairness, ideals upon which I hope we can both agree and upon which our country was built,” Gusman said in a letter to Vitter. “If we are to continue to be judged by these ideals, I believe our new ICE policy places us on the right side of this issue and keeps us on a path to a stronger future.” The entire letter can be read in the Sheriff’s web page.

The job of governing and administering a large prison cannot be easy.  Frankly, it appears to me that it is simply a quagmire and that Sheriff Guzman ’s position is delicate at best.  Let’s face it, Sheriff Gusman has to maintain the fragile balance between housing people society has deemed as violators of the law and classified as prisoners to be housed in a jail, while at the same time protecting these inmate’s civil rights.  Of course, the third component to that delicate balance is the need to protect the community from any danger these inmates might pose. This delicate I speak of cannot be easy to achieve, or maintain and takes a very steady hand.

We take this opportunity to salute the Sheriff for his stand on this difficult issue.


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