NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The New Orleans City Council may consider increasing the number of beds at the parish jail.
The recommendation made Thursday by the Orleans Justice Center - which was formerly Orleans Parish Prison - is to build new facilities at the jail to house mentally ill inmates, as well as bring inmates back to New Orleans who are currently held out of parish. The OJC says this move will save hundreds of thousands of dollars this year.
But opponents say the City Council passed an ordinance in 2011 that very specifically limits the size of the jail.
"After about a year of discussion and research and fighting back and forth, [we] came up with 1,438 beds would be right size for the jail," said Don Everard with the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition. "OPPRC thought it was too high, but that was the decision of that group and the City Council put that into statute form."
"We've estimated if we took the number of inmates that we have out of parish - and the cost of that 700-something inmates out of parish - to keep them out of parish as opposed to keeping them here is about $600,000 a year," said OJC Compliance Director Gary Maynard. "That's the difference in cost for out of parish-in parish. If we bring those back around the first of July, then that will be $300,000 saved for the balance of the year."
The presentation today was before the Criminal Justice Committee. The council has not made a ruling on the proposal.