Funding pact reached in Orleans jail reform battle
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Lawyers for the city of New Orleans and the local sheriff reached agreement Thursday on how to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to fix problems at the city’s violent jail, marking at least a temporary truce in an often nasty legal and political battle.
The pact was reached in federal court between the city, which funds the jail, and Sheriff Marlin Gusman, who operates it. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk approved the agreement, which comes months after he approved a reform agreement between Gusman and lawyers for inmates who had sued over unsanitary conditions, poor medical treatment and sometimes-deadly violence at the lockup.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s administration had fought approval of that pact between Gusman and the inmates, arguing the city would be faced with paying for mismanagement by the sheriff.
The bickering ended for a time late last year, when the city agreed to provide nearly $1.9 million for the court-ordered jail reforms. Landrieu and Gusman both were re-elected in the spring and court battles over funding later resumed.
Thursday’s agreement deals with $950,000 that remains unspent form last year’s allotment. It earmarks more than $457,000 for several new jail management positions.
Among the half-dozen managers to be hired initially with the $457,000 are a human resources director and a classification manager.