Federal Lawsuit Alleges Brutal Conditions in Orleans Parish Prison

Apr 2, 2012

The Southern Poverty Law Center is suing officials in charge of the New Orleans jail. The group says inmates are subjected to violence and held in inhumane conditions.

The federal class-action lawsuit alleges the jail, now housing about 3400 inmates, isn’t properly staffed. It says inmates with mental health problems aren’t receiving treatment, while guards aren’t intercepting weapons used in attacks. Law Center attorney Katie Schwartzmann says conditions are brutal.

“The current jail is too big. It’s out of control. There’s a culture of violence and lawlessness.” 

Inmate advocate Norris Henderson says federal oversight is essential.

“We’ve got, like, the fox watching the hen house. We can’t have that kind of scenario.” 

Sheriff Marlin Gusman hasn’t commented on the lawsuit. A new jail planned for 1400 inmates is set to be finished in 2014.