New Orleans Inmates On Tape Showing Loaded Guns, Poppin' Mollies, Drinking Beer, Watching Porn & Playing Dice
Apr 4 2013
Videos show Orleans jail inmates with a loaded gun and taking drugs, and one roaming Bourbon StreetInmates at the now-shuttered House of Detention in Orleans Parish didn't have to forgo all of their vices, according to videotapes aired during a federal court hearing Tuesday over a proposed consent decree to govern jail reforms in the parish.One inmate is seen shooting up heroin, while others freely snort drugs behind bars and chat on cell phones. Another inmate releases bullets from a long-barreled handgun onto the ground inside the jail, behind bars.In another video, an Orleans Parish jail inmate went out on the town in the French Quarter, chatting up cops and cruising down Bourbon Street. How he got there remains uncertain."Marlin Gusman, he do nothing for us," one inmate complains over some trash left on the floor.Inside the jail, cash dice games apparently were a source of entertainment for the inmates, according to the video, which lawyers for Sheriff Marlin Gusman's office said were from four years ago. The date of the taping, however, remained in question early Tuesday.Just how the gun, the drugs, the phones and all of the cash got into the facility -- and perhaps most importantly, how an inmate was able to get out and roam the Quarter -- is bound to come up as the hearing moves forward Tuesday.U.S. District Judge Lance Africk allowed the stark images of flagrant illegal activity into evidence, saying they cut to the heart of claims by inmate lawyers and the U.S. Department of Justice over grim conditions inside the jail.Airing of the tapes, which were turned over by Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman's office after a request from the city, came at the start of the second day of a week-long hearing that pits the city against Gusman, the U.S. Department of Justice and inmate advocates with the Southern Policy Law Center.Africk will rule on whether to approve the proposed consent decree above the city's objections.The city is waging a fight to stave off perhaps $17 million to $22 million in additional costs to fund inmate care under the proposed consent decree to govern reforms at the maligned jail facility.At stake is the scope of an agreement inked in December between the feds, the inmate lawyers and Gusman to govern expansive jail reforms. Among the criticisms is that jail deputies are paid too little and that the jail is deeply understaffed.If Africk signs the deal, or an amended one, the parties will reconvene in late May for a hearing on just how much money the reforms will cost.Under state law, the city is on the hook for inmate care, although it's Gusman's job to run the jail. Mayor Mitch Landrieu has balked at a cost that could run perhaps $17 million or more, and the city is now pressing for the feds and the sheriff to justify the cost.Gusman shut down the House of Detention suddenly last year. In a statement Tuesday, Gusman acknowledged the poor conditions there, and elsewhere in the jail complex."The House of Detention is a city-owned building in a state of disrepair and abhorrent lack of proper security measures. I closed the House of Detention last year because of these problems," Gusman said. "Following Hurricane Katrina, we were forced to reopen the House of Detention to house inmates, because other inmate facilities were destroyed by the floods. It was never meant to be a long-term solution. In addition, we have been using eight temporary tents to house inmates. These facilities were never meant to be used this long for these purposes."The videotapes only turned up in the last few days, after the city requested it from Gusman's office.Video shows inmates with beer, drugs, guns in New Orleans prisonThis video was shown in a federal courtroom this morning in the ongoing trial over whether conditions at the Orleans Parish jail are unconstitutional. In it, inmates in the now-closed House of Detention drink beer, play dice for money, snort drugs and even show off a loaded handgun
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