Sheriff's Office, City settle on consent decree

Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman
Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office and the City of New Orleans reached a partial agreement in court Thursday on the federal consent decree for the Orleans Parish Prison.

Judge Lance Africk said in court that both sides still have a long way to go, but he said the partial settlement agreement shows there's light at the end of the tunnel. The agreement outlines how the sheriff should spend some of the money set aside in last year's budget for the consent decree.

The city approved $1.88 million for the reforms.

In the partial settlement signed today, Gusman agrees to use some of that money to hire senior-level management to help with the transition to the new jail. He also agrees to hire human resources staff, a compliance coordinator and grievance coordinator.

The remainder of the funds will be put into a separate bank account and used to hire deputies as security staff.

In the paperwork filed today, Gusman says he expects to hire 93 deputies by the end of the fiscal year.

His attorneys said in court that's the most critical part of making Orleans Parish Prison safer for both the inmates and officers.

Nothing in the agreement obligates the city to provide funding over the amount already agreed upon, $2.05 million. The city is not obligated to provide any specific funding after this year.

Africk said he appreciated the effort by both parties to reach a partial settlement. However, he said he's still frustrated by the fact that violence remains a concern at the jail.

Gusman released the following statement Thursday:

"We're pleased that the Sheriff's Office is making significant progress with this agreement. This partial agreement serves as the framework for substantial compliance with the consent agreement.

"We've made a significant step today. On behalf of the Sheriff's Office, I'd like to thank the court and the monitor for their guidance; and I'd also like to thank the City for their good faith in these negotiations."

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