Statement from Susan Hutson team:
New Orleans made history on Saturday by electing a national leader in police accountability as sheriff. The race was called for Susan Hutson over the four-time incumbent Marlin Gusman with 54% to 46% after running on a platform of progressive reform. The election was a resounding repudiation of a sheriff whose tenure has been marked by a litany of scandals and repeated efforts to expand the city’s jail.
“Now the real work begins, I promise you I will help our neighbors in custody to do better. We will not harm them we will help them. We will help our neighbors who work there [at the jail], respect them, pay them. But most of all we are going to listen to this amazing community every step of the way.”
The criminal justice reform community consolidated behind Hutson, seeing alignment between her policies and a platform for the sheriff’s office put forward by a group of dozens of community organizations led by the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition. Hutson’s candidacy enjoyed the support of prominent local political organizations devoted to criminal justice reform, including the PAC for Justice.
“After decades as the incarceration capital of the world, we are proud to be a national leader in criminal justice reform,” said PAC for Justice Co-Chair Sade Dumas. “For centuries, the sheriff has been a symbol of oppression. With this election, New Orleans has sent a message that it’s time that justice and accountability in our criminal legal system breaks the mould of the slave patrol.”
Hutson put accountability and transparency at the center of her campaign, leveraging her track record as New Orleans’ Independent Police Monitor, responsible for overseeing changes at the city’s troubled police department. Her tenure as Independent Police Monitor has seen high-profile investigations of coverups of police shootings following Hurricane Katrina, the implementation of police body cameras and new systems for reporting police use of force. As Sheriff, she has pledged to oppose the construction of a new jail building, end extractive practices like expensive jail phone calls and provide gender-confirming housing. She becomes the first woman elected sheriff in Orleans Parish and the first Black woman elected sheriff in Louisiana history.