Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman announced at a press conference today that a warrant has been issued for the arrest of Lateefa Marshall, a former sheriff's deputy who is accused of initiating a fight with an inmate and subsequently filing a false report about the incident.
On March 29, Marshall allegedly struck an inmate at the Orleans Parish Jail on the chest and head, leaving the inmate bruised. Marshall is charged with simple battery and malfeasance, and she was suspended from her duties as deputy within 24 hours of the fight. She was released from the department earlier this week.
Marshall, who had been working for the department a little over a year, is at large.
Gov. Bobby Jindal isn’t likely a fan of the satirical Krewe du Vieux. In recent years, floats have depicted him dumping an old woman out of a wheelchair into the jaws of an alligator (“YoMamaCare”) and forcing himself on a Pelican. This year, the boisterous krewe has anointed historian and wetlands restoration advocate John Barry as king of its “Where the Vile Things Are” parade.
The author of Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 spent much of the last year championing a lawsuit, that Jindal opposes — a lawsuit against oil companies to pay for damages they caused to the wetlands. On Feb. 15, Barry will lead the irreverent krewe and its procession of brass bands and satirical, racy and offbeat floats. A regular viewer of the parade, Barry embraced the crown with his own theme.
“I’m going to be John of Arc, the Blade of Orleans,” Barry says. “When I walked into the (Krewe du Vieux) den, it occurred to me. It seemed perfect. You have a crusade — trying to protect Orleans. Instead of the Maid of Orleans, it’s the Blade of Orleans.”
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman will face off against his predecessor, Charles Foti, in a March 15 runoff following today's election. With 100 percent of the vote in, Gusman fell just below the victory mark with 49 percent of the vote to Foti's 29 percent. Challenger Ira Thomas took 19 percent and Quentin Brown 3 percent.
"I've been on pins and needles upstairs," Gusman told supporters at LACE The Grand Ballroom banquet hall in New Orleans East after an early projection showed him taking the race outright. "We don't know 'for sure' for sure, but things look pretty good." Several minutes later, however, the situation had changed, and Gusman came back to tell the crowd, "Looks like we have a little more work to do. ... We're going to be victorious."
In perhaps the evening's biggest irony, Gusman had entered his party to the strains of the Doobie Brothers' "What a Fool Believes."
When Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Sheriff Marlin Gusman announced an agreement to begin funding the federal consent decree at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), I thought we were finally seeing some progress at the troubled jail.
The Times-Picayune is now reporting that Gusman is investigating the man responsible for helping the TP and the Southern Poverty Law Center expose the countless rapes, stabbings and inhumane conditions inside the jail.
News organizations are loath to reveal confidential sources, but in this case Deputy Bryan Collins has agreed to let the TP identify him. He no longer has anything to lose, and perhaps the light of day will force Gusman to back down.
According to the newspaper, Collins as of last week had not been allowed to report for duty for a week. The paper also reported that Collins has hired a lawyer who took the deputy’s concerns about retaliation to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Based on the TP’s reporting, Collins’ concerns are justified. In fact, the DOJ should expand its probe of Gusman’s office to include retaliation against Collins.
Gusman’s office has confirmed it is pursuing criminal and administrative investigations of Collins for alleged violations of OPP policies. The “violations” include Collins bringing a cellphone into the jail, where he photographed a bloody cell — the scene of a brutal stabbing — and shared it with the newspaper and the law center. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed the original lawsuit against Gusman, which the DOJ later joined. That lawsuit led to the consent decree.
Now, after Collins helped expose the hellish conditions that warranted federal intervention at OPP, he’s being scapegoated by the man responsible for those conditions — because he used his cellphone to blow the whistle. Never mind that scores of prisoners bring cellphones — and a lot worse — into Gusman’s jail.
The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition released a statement today demanding that New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu and Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman put an end to their dispute and agree to the OPP consent decree.
Landrieu says the cost of the consent decree — estimated in the tens of millions annually — combined with a $55 million four to five year consent decree over the New Orleans Police Department (which the Landrieu administration is also fighting after initially supporting it) would bankrupt the city, forcing massive layoffs and/or furloughs of essential employees.
During a fairness hearing — to determine whether conditions at the jail warrant the adoption of the consent decree — held earlier this month, the city took the position that the consent decree is unnecessarily broad, yet at the same time called for a more extreme measure to fix the jail: federal receivership, which it later formally requested.
Meanwhile Gusman favors the consent decree, yet maintains that his jail is not being run unconstitutionally.
U.S. District Court Judge has not yet made a ruling on the fairness hearing. Two more hearings on Gusman's budget and funding for jail improvements are scheduled for May 28 and July 1.
The impending Consent Decree would force the City *and* the Sheriff to finally do the right thing and make the changes necessary to ensure the safety of staff and inmates in a facility that now boasts over 700 assaults each year. However, instead of supporting the consent decree, our Mayor and his attorneys have engaged in the worst kind of hypocrisy, denying that conditions in OPP are unconstitutional while at the same time, claiming that things are so bad that the court should place the jail in federal receivership. The political chess game which is playing out in both the media and in U.S. District Court is a slap in the faces of the fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, sons, and daughters incarcerated in OPP, and the families of the 41 people who have died there in the last 8 years. It is also a threat to all New Orleanians, because we are all made unsafe by our dehumanizing, unconstitutional jail.
The statement ends with a call to "evacuate" all nonviolent offenders in the jail.
We are in a state of perpetual and untenable crisis. In terms familiar to New Orleanians, the storm at OPP has escalated to 'category five' status. It’s time to evacuate.
With a renewed sense of urgency we demand that persons held on non-violent charges — who, by law, would be set free in the event that a Category 3 hurricane were in the Gulf — be immediately released from Orleans Parish Prison. These individuals pose no threat to the community, but conditions in the jail do pose a significant threat to their lives.
(Read the full statement after the jump)
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