Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman today is before a federal judge to answer questions about the proposed consent decree between the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the U.S. Department of Justice. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu worries a $22 million price tag could wreck the city budget.
Sheriff Gusman says for years his office has had to work with inadequate funding to operate the jail. He puts blame for that on New Orleans City Hall.
"The city of New Orleans has failed to fulfill its legal obligation to adequately pay for the care and custody of the city's inmates," Gusman said last week. "I've said to the city many times and for many years that a federal judge will make the decision for us if we don't act quickly and fairly in how we fund out jail system."
Sheriff Gusman says the problems in the sheriff's office, particularly in the parish prison, existed long before he took office.
"We inherited a bad situation in 2004 when I became sheriff," the sheriff said.
Gusman today will answer questions before a federal judge on conditions at the parish prison, conditions that include inmates having access to drugs like heroin, alcohol and even firearms while they're supposed to be locked up.