Orleans Parish Prison inmates continue to suffer excessive violence and shoddy medical and mental-health care caused by severe understaffing, conditions a court-appointed corrections expert called “the definition of mayhem” yesterday, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. “Twenty-three-hour lockdown, mayhem, absence of staff to supervise what’s going on — it’s the quintessential definition, the English definition of mayhem,” said Susan McCampbell, the lead monitor tasked with reporting to a federal judge on the state of the jail.
McCampbell’s monitors believe the jail urgently needs 151 additional employees to improve conditions, at a cost of at least $2.7 million for 2014 alone. The figure comes as Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sheriff Marlin Gusman remain far apart on what each side said is needed to implement a federal consent decree to meet minimal constitutional standards at a jail notorious for high rates of rape, assault and death. Gusman wants as many as 684 more employees than the 471 now in the jail. Landrieu’s administration says the sheriff only needs 135 more employees, and that Gusman already has enough money for them in his budget if he reduces other costs by removing 350 state inmates, consolidating some services with the mayor’s office and bidding out contracts.