City drops case, allows construction to continues on new OPP jail

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Orleans Parish Prison housing facility.

NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The legal battle over the Orleans Parish Prison’s housing plans heated up in court Thursday between the city and sheriff. After hours, the city decided to drop the case, so construction will continue on the new jail facility at the OPP.

“The city’s withdrawal of its mandamus proceeding today confirms that the design of the new facility is in compliance with the conditional use permit. The withdrawal of the stop work order will allow the Sheriff’s Office to remain in compliance with the federal consent decree and also help us assure the safety of correctional officers, inmates and the public at large,” Sheriff Marlin Gusman said in a statement.

The debate started back in 2011 when the city council gave the sheriff’s office a ‘conditional’ use permit to construct a new jail facility for $145 million. Sheriff Gusman later requested nearly $85 million more to build another facility.

Last month, the city put out a stop work order. The city didn’t want two facilities. They say one facility is fine, but first facility violates city code and doesn’t provide adequate housing for the mentally ill or disabled.

Sheriff’s office says in 2013, the city was on board with building another facility and this is unfair.

Two days after the city council put out the stop work order, Judge Kern Reese issued a temporary restraining order, preventing the city from enforcing the order.

Mayor Mitch Landrieu issued the following statement in reaction to Thursday’s court hearing on the City’s stop work order on the Phase II jail facility and on Sheriff Gusman a few weeks ago withdrawing his $84 million capital outlay request for a new Phase III jail facility.

“I’m relieved that the Sheriff has finally shared a plan to house all inmates at the new jail under construction, and that he has formally withdrawn his $84 million capital outlay request to build a third jail building. These new developments will help New Orleans save taxpayers money and run a safe and constitutional jail.”

Below (above on our mobile app) is a report from our 11 a.m. newscast: