Today, on the last day for Sheriff Marlin Gusman to respond to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning Constitional violations at Orleans Parish Prison, the ACLU of Louisiana sent an open letter to him and to the Department of Justice, outlining ongoing violations at OPP and urging swift correction. Marjorie R. Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU of Louisiana, said: "In recent weeks, we've seen continuing reports of beatings, inadequate medical screening, unsanitary conditions including overflowing toilets and moldy food service utensils, overcrowding - in short, the same problems that the Justice Department noted in its letter of September 11." The ACLU has received several complaints that echo those it has seen over many years, suggesting that problems remain at OPP in spite of the Justice Department letter and today's deadline.
In the letter to Gusman and the Justice Department, Esman says: "These problems have existed for far too long, and Sheriff Gusman has been on notice of them at least since the issuance of a report by the National Institute of Corrections in October, 2008. Even in the face of the Letter, deficiencies remain unaddressed. We hope that all of these failings will be corrected quickly, and that any resolution will require swift and thorough remediation of these problems, and full compliance with Constitutional protections for all prisoners at OPP."
Esman continued: "We've been monitoring conditions at OPP for a long time. We expect that the Justice Department will demand full accountability and immediate correction of the inhumane conditions there. The ACLU will continue, as we have for years, to monitor what goes on inside Orleans Parish Prison and we will continue to work towards improvement of the substandard conditions there."
A copy of the open letter may be read here.