Plan for Orleans Parish Jail Raises Questions

NEW ORLEANS — Earlier this month, Gary D. Maynard, compliance director of the Orleans Parish jail in New Orleans, made way on a plan to improve the facility by including a recommendation for the city to build an 89-bed addition for mentally ill inmates.

According to his submitted plan, the Phase III addition would house adult male and female acute/sub-cute inmates separately, reported Louisiana Weekly. This includes moving youth detainees from the Orleans Justice Center into the New Orleans Youth Study Center after an expansion there is completed in 2018. As of now, 10 to 20 juveniles are being kept in a separate part of the jail with a 60-inmate capacity, which means about 40 to 50 beds are unused. The addition would allow some Orleans Parish inmates currently housed outside of the parish to return to the facility.

Maynard’s report also mentioned that data analysis would help reduce violence in the jail and included a full listing of jail assaults that occurred in the last 18 months. He stated that the data is currently being analyzed, and a full analysis will be completed by March 1, according to Louisiana Weekly.

Opponents of the plan believe the new building would encourage the jail to raise the already high incarceration rate in New Orleans, according to Louisiana Weekly. Cost is another concern. Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director for the Southern Poverty Law Center told Louisiana Weekly that retrofitting the jail to help care for mentally ill inmates would be more cost effective and provide more immediate relief. As of now, Maynard’s plan does not include a total cost or how the project would be funded.

Final authority and approval of expenditures in the plan would come from the city of New Orleans.