NEW ORLEANS (AP) - A federal judge has granted preliminary approval of an agreement between the Justice Department and the city of New Orleans that's designed to clean up the city-funded jail.
The consent decree with Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman calls for him to provide adequate medical and mental health care and overhaul policies on use of force and rape prevention, among other reforms. U.S. District Judge Lance Africk's approval Tuesday is a step towards implementing some of those reforms.
Last month, the U.S. Department of Justice, Gusman, and a group of current and former inmates represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center reached a settlement on the issue. But the city, which funds the jail, objected and is at financial odds with Gusman.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu has said the reforms suggested within the decree could cost as much as $17 million and could "bankrupt the city."
Africk set a fairness hearing for April 1 to hear testimony and weigh whether to give the decree involving the jail reforms his final OK.