City formally files to place OPP in federal receivership
Shana Rose Reporting
Today city officials say New Orleans has formally filed to place a federal receiver "In control of all administrative, correctional and financial aspects of the operations of Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) and related facilities."
The filing follows a week of testimony and what a news release calls new evidence detailing the mismanagement of the prison, as part of Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office consent decree fairness hearings. It says experts concluded that there were many areas and problems that could be fixed quickly, easily, or cheaply, and that the Sheriff's Office was not meeting the standards set forth in the already existing consent decrees for the jail.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu says, "The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office has been unsuccessful at reforming the jail. It gets clearer every day that the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office is not keeping the prison secure and our city safe. This is about management, not money. Last week, expert after expert talked about mismanagement and said this was one of the worst run jails in the country. That is why I am asking for receivership so a corrections expert can run the jail in a safe, secure and fiscally responsible way."
Landrieu continued, "The people of the city are investing over $225 million to build new prison facilities and over $30 million each year in taxpayer money to operate the jail. I cannot in good conscience cut vital services or raise taxes to put even more money into the operations of an office where waste, fraud, and abuse run rampant. Despite existing consent decrees, improvements have not been made, and given the latest evidence and testimony, it is essential that a receiver be installed to implement reforms at the jail."
The news release goes on to say, "In receivership, the position of sheriff remains filled, but all administrative, correctional and financial aspects of the operations of Orleans Parish Prison would be made by a court-appointed corrections expert. Under the laws of the State of Louisiana, the sheriff is an independently elected position and has unfettered discretion to oversee the operations of the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office. Federal courts have appointed receivers to manage all or a part of severely troubled prison systems, as recently as 2006."