With 10 percent fewer prisoners than a year ago, the Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff’s Office has laid off 73 employees to keep its budget balanced, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. Acting Sheriff William C. Hunter said the layoffs affected a tiny percentage of the staff and will not compromise jail security. The jail employs about 1,240. The layoffs come as the jail, where income is linked to the number of inmates, is facing financial pressure from several sources.
Judges at Orleans Parish Criminal District Court have sued Hunter, claiming he has held up construction of two badly needed new courtrooms by refusing to hand over the court’s share of proceeds from a $27 million bond issue voters approved in 2000 for capital improvements to the city’s criminal justice system.
The city administration wants to save $3 million by reducing what it pays Orleans Parish Prison to house city prisoners. City Council Budget Committee Chairman Marlin Gusman said costs could be cut by issuing more summonses rather than arresting people on minor charges, reducing the time people spend in jail by using home incarceration technology, and processing arrested people out of jail on weekends.