Coalition Wants Temporary Detention Center Closed in Mid-City

Nov 30, 2017

A New Orleans jail reform coalition is asking the city to close a temporary detention center operating in Mid-City. Criminal justice groups are worried that it will become permanent.

The large beige building is in a neighborhood on Perdido Street, not far from the Orleans Parish Prison - which opened in 2016. It's a temporary detention center being used for inmate overflow during a period of low staffing.

The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition demonstrates at City Hall over the use of a temporary detention center in Mid-City.
Credit Eileen Fleming / WWNO

It opened after Hurricane Katrina. By law, it was to be demolished in April.

The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition delivered a letter yesterday to the City Council and the jail monitor to clear out the facility it says has about 200 inmates locked up. At a news conference on City Hall steps with about 30 supporters.  Coalition spokeswoman Adina Marx-Arpadi says seven people have died in the new jail. One man died this month after being held at detention center.

“Nobody should die in jail, let alone in a facility that is being operated illegally," she said.      

The council discussed a plan in May to reduce the city’s high incarceration rate by releasing non-violent offenders. The coalition says that plan is still pending.

Meantime, Sheriff Marlin Gusman still wants to build another new jail – this one with 89 beds for inmates with mental-health issues. That plan is also pending. The coalition is fighting any expansions.

The coalition wants the council to pass an ordinance within 90 days on closing the center. If not, it may take the case to court.