Asserting that violence has increased at New Orleans’ Orleans Parish jail in recent days, the Southern Poverty Law Center last night sought an injunction against the sheriff’s office requesting a federal judge’s immediate intervention, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The request came a month after the group filed a proposed class-action suit against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, saying that conditions at the jail are unsafe and unconstitutional.
The U.S. Justice Department later issued findings of inadequate staffing levels in jail facilities, pervasive violence and substandard mental health care. Gusman called the findings “sensationalized.” The sheriff defended his stewardship of the jail, noting that he’d recently announced the closure of the House of Detention,one of the most criticized buildings he’d used to house inmates. One of the original plaintiffs, inmate Kent Anderson, said deputies have threatened him since the lawsuit, saying they could move him back to a jail facility where he believes isn’t safe. “Since my lawyers filed the lawsuit, things have been hell for me. Deputies tell me, ‘You want to complain about things? You want to tell your lawyers? We’ll send you back to Old Parish Prison’