Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition Blocks Jail Entrance - Calls For Urgent Action in Response to Jail Conditions

From a press release from the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition: 

Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC) members and supporters gathered today at 10:00am at the intersection of Tulane & Broad, and marched to the Intake & Processing Center at 730 S. Dupre St. where they partially blocked the jail entrance and called for a moratorium on admissions to a facility where conditions continue to be inhuman, unconstitutional and life-threatening. 

OPPRC suggests that the City needs to find other alternatives rather than continuing to house people in an “unsafe and violent jail” and called for urgent steps to be taken in an open letter to Susan Guidry and other members of the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee released on March 13, 2014. In the letter, OPPRC asserts that “We cannot simply continue to expose individuals who are in custody or individuals who work at the jail to these extremely dangerous conditions.” Within ten days of the letter's release another individual died in custody following a fight between prisoners in the jail's temporary housing unit known as "the tents."

OPPRC claims that the consent decree has not resulted in significant improvement in the conditions in the jail, citing the first report of the federal monitoring team which found that inmates in OPP “continue to experience severe problems with shoddy medical care, violence and a general attitude of apathy toward their grievances.”

OPPRC also is renewing its call for Mayor Landrieu to declare the jail to be in a state of emergency, thus triggering the release of persons held for minor, non-violent crimes.  “Many of the people currently in OPP pose zero risk to public safety- as evidenced by the fact that they would simply be released under hurricane evacuation conditions. Instead, they are held in OPP, on taxpayer’s money, where they are in danger of being beaten, raped, stabbed, or possibly even killed in the jail,” said Yvette Thierry. “We cannot in good conscience hold people subject to this dehumanizing violence. The City is responsible for their safety. The Mayor has the responsibility to stop this bloodshed.”

There have been 25 in-custody deaths in OPP since 2009, and up to 73 inmates a month are sent to the emergency room.

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