Violence In New Orleans’ New Jail Reported At “Unacceptable Level”

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Violence in the New Orleans jail continues at “absolutely an unacceptable level,” even after inmates were moved to a new facility, a court-appointed expert testified in federal court yesterday, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. For nearly four years, Orleans Parish Prison has been under a court-ordered consent decree to make the jail safer and more secure for inmates and the deputies who guard them after a court found in 2013 that conditions at the former site violated the constitutional rights of prisoners. The city of New Orleans owns and funds the jail, which the Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office operates.

Susan McCampbell, a court-appointed monitors, said with a 50 percent staff turnover in 2015, and a lack of training and supervision, the employees who do stick around can’t properly perform their jobs. “In an environment where the inmates have more experience with the facility than the staff, inmates are always trying to be the ones to run the jail,” McCampbell told U.S. District Judge Lance Africk. From Sept. 15 to Dec. 31 last year, the first month’s inmates were housed in the new $145 million jail complex, McCampbell said there were 200 inmate-on-inmate assaults, 44 uses of force by staff, and 16 assaults on staff. “At a well-run direct-supervision facility, it’s an oddity to have an inmate-inmate assault,” she said. “And in this facility, it’s almost a daily occurrence.”

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