A federal judge approved a consent decree Thursday governing an operational overhaul of Orleans Parish Prison that would reform one of the country's most dangerous lockups known for inmate deaths, sexual assaults, beatings, stabbings and poor medical care.
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman agreed to a broad ranging reform plan that stemmed from a Department of Justice civil rights investigation that began in February of 2008.
The consent agreement requires a litany of improvements that include:
- Development and implementation of policies, procedures, and training regarding all aspects of correctional management, including use of force, investigations of serious incidents, prevention of prison rape and contraband prevention and detection.
- The appointment of a professional jail administrator and other accountability measures.
- Tracking of facility data to determine where in the facility dangerous incidents are happening and what can be done to prevent further incidents.
- Adequate staffing to ensure that prisoners are safe and the staff can perform their duties without unreasonable risk of injury.
- Provision of adequate medical and mental health care, including access to necessary medications and treatment, as well as appropriate supervision and intervention for suicidal inmates.
- Improvements in sanitation and fire safety.
- Ensuring that Spanish-speaking inmates with limited English proficiency have access to Spanish-language translations to enable them to access medical and other basic services.
- Appointment of an independent monitor with expertise in the areas covered by this agreement.
The measures will transfer to the new jail when it opens. The city of New Orleans and the sheriff are locked in a dispute over municipal funding for jail operations. An Aug. 5 hearing will determine the amoung of funding required from the city.