City vs Sheriff: Orleans Parish Prison housing debate heats up

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NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) – The legal battle over the Orleans Parish Prison’s housing plans is heating up again. A hearing on the case will be held Wednesday, but high-ranking leaders are already releasing statements about the conflict and Tuesday the City Council held a special meeting about the litigation.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman was invited (in fact, his name is the first one listed on the attendant’s list), but he sent out a statement Monday night, saying he will not be there.

Sheriff Gusman said it’s improper for the committee to discuss pending litigation. And the timing of the meeting is quote ‘highly suspect’.

The committee says they are trying to influence the court since on Wednesday there is a hearing about the stop-work order the city placed on the sheriff’s prison plans, less than two weeks ago.

Let’s break down the history of this housing plan conflict:

  • In 2011, the City Council gave the Sheriff’s Office a ‘conditional’ use permit to construct a jail facility.
  • Last month, he asked for nearly $85 million more to build another facility.
  • Then, the City Council put out a stop work order for violating city code — not providing adequate housing for mentally ill, female, juvenile, disabled inmates and more. They also said that the other facility the Sheriff requested money for was not needed.
  • Two days after the City Council put out that order — Judge Kern Reese issued a temporary restraining order preventing the City from enforcing the stop work order. Both sides are due in court for that Wednesday.
  • Now, the sheriff is not attending this meeting — But said he will be at the next committee meeting this Friday.
  • We basically have to see how all these meetings and hearings play out. Even the Inspector General has weighed in, releasing a statement, demanding both sides cooperate.

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