A day after a woman smuggled a gun into Louisiana’s Orleans Parish Prison to help her husband escape, Sheriff Charles Foti Jr. unveiled an electronic visitation system that will eliminate face-to-face visits by relatives and friends, the New Orleans Times-Picayune says.
Workers have been installing fiber-optic cable in the 7,200-bed prison compound for more than a year to provide the infrastructure for a system that will require inmates and visitors to communicate via video cameras, television sets and telephones. Sixteen audio-visual cubicles have been installed in the prison’s intake processing center and should be operational in about two months.
The electronic system will increase visitation hours and will prevent situations in which visitors can slip contraband to prisoners, Foti said. The prison, which has more than 6,000 inmates right now, needs about 40 cubicles, he said. Attorneys will have the option to meet with their clients in person or through the electronic system.
On Wednesday, Lori Davis, who has cerebral palsy and wears a full-body brace, smuggled into the prison a small-caliber handgun that her husband, Lance Davis, used to escape, authorities said. After the Davises were chased, Lance Davis, who had been in Orleans Parish Prison since April on two counts of armed robbery and a probation violation, killed himself with the gun.
Foti, noting that the electronic system will cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars, said it will eliminate the opportunity to pass along contraband during visits.