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Aclu La Parish Jail Report 2010

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P.O. BOX 56157
NEW ORLEANS. L,\ 70156
11: (5(4) 522-0617


September] 3,20] 0
by fax 202-5] 4-0293
and US Mail
Roy L. Austin, Jr.
Deputy Assistant Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Office of the Assistant Attorney General, Main
Washington, D.C. 20530

Subject: Opeu Letter Concerning Violence at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP)
Dear Mr. Austin:
Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice, Civil Rights Division (CRD) notified the
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff about the results of its yearlong investigation into conditions at
the Orleans Parish Pl~son (OPP). Specifically, thc Division found that OPP prisoners are not
adequately protected from hann, including physical harm from excessive use of force by staff
and inmatc-on-inmatc violence; that mentally ill prisoners rceeivcd inadequate treatmcnt; that
there were serious problems with the Jail's medication management system; and that prisoners
face serious risks posed by inadequate environmental and sanitation conditions. CRD proposed a
series of remedial measures the Sheriff should take to remedy the unconstitutional conditions at
the jail, and notified him that the Division would consider filing a lawsuit pursuant to CRIPA, 42
U.s.c. § I997b(a)(l), ifthe Sheriff failed to correct these violations.
We are unaware of any progress made toward the correction of these violations. despite
the passage of a year since the CRD's findings. Indeed, we continue to receive alarming
complaints from OPP. Additionally. at the same time as OPP flouts minimum constitutional
standards, the Sheriff is seeking to expand an already oversized jail.' The expansion is especially
troublesome in light of CRD findings that the current jail is understaffed and fails to protect
prisoners from violence and the National Institute of Corrections' findings that staff were
uninterested in supervising prisoners.
There is ample evidence that the Sheriff has failed to remedy one of the constitutional
violations your Division identified last year, namely, OPP's failure to ensure that prisoners are
"adequately protected from hann, including physical harm from excessive use of force by staff

Bl'Uce Eggler. Nev.' prison complex plan approved by Ne\.... Orleans City Council, Ne\v Orleans Times-Picayune,
July I, 20 I0, available at:!acuI2 ("It was unclear. however, whelher Ihe vole ultimalely wi II mean
much in determining hm\l large the new prison will be and what it \vill look like. Councilwoman Stacy Head
said that before the council votes on an ordinance giving legal force to the zoning docket approved Thursday.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu will convene a ~working group' to sUldy the prison's design and operation[.] Council
members[ ... ]agree on at least two points; that the city jails too many people for minor offenses and that it canlt
solve its violent crime problem by simply locking up more and more people.")


and inmate-on-inmate violence." Letter to Sheriff Marlin Gusman, September 1L 2009, Page 2
available at: findlct.pdf.
The Sheriff has long knO\vn about the problems of excessive lorce and prisoner-onprisoner violence at OPP. One year before CRD issued its findings letter, the National Institute
of Correction issued a report entitled "An Operational Review of the Orleans Parish Jails" by
Jeffrey A. Schwartz and Rod Miller, October 10,2008. Their report concluded that:

"inmates are largely left to fend lor themselves in the Orleans Parish jails. Inmate
supervision is sporadic" (Page 27);
"inmate welfare does not appear to be a primary concern" (Page 4):
"[T]oo many supervisors and managers walk past [... ] problems on a daily basis without
addressing or correcting them....these include... lack of required security rounds ...
Complacency toward basic security measures exists in other jails but the breadth and
depth of these problems in the Orleans Parish jails is unusual." (Page 24).

Approximately a year later, CRD found:


"OPP fails to adequately protect inmates li'om harm and serious risk of hann Irom staff
and other inmates" (Page 5);
a lack of investigative policies and procedures (Page 10):
"The high incidence of imnatc-on-inmate violence at the HOD and the Tents
demonstrates OPP's inability to keep its inmates reasonably safe [with a] frequency and
serious nature of injuries sustained by OPP inmates [that] represent[s] a systemic level of
violence that poses a serious risk of harm to both ililllates and correctional staff at the
jail" (Page 12-13)
"Inadequate Staffing and Imnate Supervision." (Page 13)

Yet another year has now passed, and unfortunately violence still remains pervasive at the
jail. Recently we have received numerous complaints about violence in the House of Detention
(HOD) and the Tents, which your report notes had "unacceptably high levels of serious imnateon-imnate violence:' Page 14. We have also been told that staff members alTange and wager on
prisoner-on-prisoner fights and that weapons, including shanks, are readily available in the Jail.
We simply lack the capacity or resources to attempt to verify every complaint of violence
or death at the jaiL' See Laura Maggi, "Orleans Parish jail stabbings leave one inmate dead, one
wounded," Times Picayune (March 30, 2010) available at:!
?010/03/orleans parish jail stabbings.html; Katy Reckdahl, "Woman says she wasn't told about
brother'S injuries in Orleans Parish Jail: He was stabbed 18 tinles in the back:' Times Picayune
(June 09, 2010) available at:; "hmlate dies in Orleans Parish Prison;' WHLcom (August
8,20 I0) (available at http://www.\!7865846.php?).


- For cX[lmple: A woman whose uncle recently died in Orleans Parish Prison of a heart attack helieves that her uncle may have been the victim of
Violence at the jail. She possesses the contaCt inform<lliun for a person who c1ailllS her uncle ,vas in fact the victim of violence at the jail. Ag<lin.
we canllot investigate this claim. At the Division's we can provide her CO!l[<lct informatioll.

These publicized deaths came at the same time we sent Division officials emails about the
increase in stabbings and violence in the jail. See Attached Email from Barry Gerharz, Prison
Litigation Fellow, to Regina Jansen and Corey Sanders, U.S. Department of Justice (April 19.
2010, 15:25 CST). In total, there have been at least seven deaths in the Jail this year, and ten
since your office issued a letter to Sheriff Gusman.
We are especially concemed that incidents of violence are not investigated properly by
OPP officials and may not be documented. We wrote Division officials about one prisoner who
was attacked by another prisoner and hospitalized to receive plates and scre\vs in his jaw, but
whose attack was reportedly not investigated by jail ofiieials. See Attached Email {l'om Barry
Gerharz, Prison Litigation Fellow, to Corey Sanders. U.S. Depmtment of Justice (April 06. 2010
16:09 CST).
A year earlier, we spoke with Mr. Sanders about sexual assaults in the jail. We also
emailed Mr. Sanders about a prisoner who--while being apparently overdetained for days by the
jail-was beaten and sexually assaulted. Attached Email from BanyGerhm'z, Prison Litigation
Fellow, to Corey Sanders, U.S. Depm·tment of Justice (April 22, 2010 17:42 CST). Despite
being beaten and having physical injuries, he was released without any apparent investigation by
either OPP staff or by the New Orleans Police Depmtment (NOPD). rd. Later, he returned to the
jail to demand they investigate his attack. After his demands, and several well publicized
newspaper reports about the increase in sexual assaults at OPP. the District Attorney instituted
charges. See State v. Andrews, et. a1.. Case No. 488-189, Sections F & A. Orleans Parish
Criminal District Court. Recently, Fitzroy George-a prisoner repeatedly stabbed by a group of
itmmte(s) in a closed setting-reported he was not shown a photographic line-up of potential
While violence permeates the jail, the Sheriff is currently asking the City for the authority
to expand the jail to 5.832 beds, large enough for 1 jail bed for every 60 residents. The jail's
current per-capita eapaeity dwarfs all kno\'m metropolitan American jails. For a loeal example,
Jefferson Parish-which is larger than Orleans Parish--currently has less than 1,000 prisoners.
An unneeessary expansion of a jail that already eannot adequate protect prisoners from harm
begs for CRD action.
We plead CRD to take action based on its findings. At a minimum. we request that you
update us, the residents of New Orleans, on the status of your investigation. In recent months
there have been two more deaths in the jail: the situation is serious. We hope that you will take
the time to update us on the status of your negotiations, or, if they have stalled. that you will
institute litigation, as you threatened to a year ago.
Sil erely,


mj orie R. Esman
Executive Director
Cc: Sheriff Marlin Gusman, by fax 504-827-7038 and US mail
Mayor Mitch Landrieu; New Orleans City Council

Barry Gerharz

Barry Gerharz [bgerharz@laaclu,org]


Monday, April 19, 2010 3:35 PM




'Sanders, Corey (CRT)'

Subject: FW: Orleans Parish Prison
Thanks for calling me today, Below is the other email we briefly discussed that I sent Corey,
I forgot to mention two cases in Orleans Parish Criminal District court that I wanted to bring to DOJ's
attention that stem from violence at the jail. Derek Winding was charged with Attempted 2 nd Degree
Murder and Aggravated Battery for a stabbing incident at the jail in Case No, 490-830, Section 1<, Orleans
Parish Criminal District Court, Recently a plea bargain was reached where the State agreed to a two year
sentence and reduction in charges reportedly based on the defendant's potentially strong self-defense
claim, which averred to the level of rampant violence in tile jail, particularly HOD, and a lack of
supervision, I spoke with an investigator who entered HOD during his investigation in tllat case, He
reports that at least on one floor there was a lack of cameras monitoring prisoners at HOD and he spoke
with prisoners who report a lack of supervision at the jail and the pervasiveness of shanks, The
investigator's name is Ben Sullivan, (202) 841-5500, I am also aware of another case prosecuted in
Orleans Parish Criminal District Court involving violence at the jail, State v, Juda Derouen, Case No, 492482, Section I, Orleans Parish Criminal District Court.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you need any more information or Ilave any questions,
Thank You,
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From: Barry Gerharz []
Sent: Tuesday, April 06, 2010 4:09 PM
To: Sanders, Corey (CRT)
Subject: Orleans Parish Prison

The last time we spoke you menfioned that I should contact you regarding any complaints I thougllt
warranted your attention. I have not written you about every complaint our office receives about
conditions at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP), but we recently a complaint that highlights several problems at
the jail noted in the U.s. Department of Justice-Civil Rights Division's September 11 , 2009 letter to Sheriff
Gusman and the U,S, Department of Justice-National Institute of Corrections October 10,2008 report on
OPP, Those problems include the jail's inability to keep prisoners safe from inmate-on-inmate Violence,


Page 2 of~

the failure to ensure adequate supervision of prisoners, the failure to track a serious incident of violence, and a
poorly executed grievance system.
The prisoner. Thaddeus A. Stovall, gave me written permission to forward the attached letter. In the letter the
prisoner alleges that IllS Jaw was fractured by another prisoner in the recreation yard in the presence of numerous
witnesses. He claims 1Ilat his injuries were severe enough that he was taken to University Hospital on October 4,
2009, and received plates and screws in his upper jaw. Despite the severity of the injuries, he claims that the
Orleans Parish Sheflff's office did not investigate the matter and he received no response to an ARP he filed last
jail. I recently sent the prisoner the mailing address for the Special Operations Division and encouraged him to
contact tl1em directly.
Although we regularly receive reports of violence at OPP, I decided to bring this particular complaint to your
office's attention because it features OPP staff's apparent failure to report or investigate serious incidents of
violence. Stovall's allegations are very similar to a complaint I wrote you about last April 22, 2009. In that
Instance, a prisoner, Jonathan Michael Moore, was violently sexually assaulted. Despite his medical injuries,
Moore was released without the prison investigating the incident. Only after I contacted the jail. our office issued
a press release regarding violent sexual assaults at OPP, and Moore went back 10 the jail to report the incident,
did an investigation occur which led to formal charges being brought against his attackers in case number 488189, Section FIA, Orleans Parisll Criminal District Court.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Yours truly,

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Barry Gerharz

Barry Gerharz [bgerharz@laaclu.orgj


Wednesday, April 22, 2009 5:42 PM





Subject: increase in complaints of sexual abuse at Orleans Parish Prison
Mr. Sanders,
Thank you for recently taking the time to speak with me about recent reports the ACLU of Louisiana has
received from gay and transgendered prisoners at Orleans Parish Prison. As we discussed, in the last
month the ACLU of Louisiana has seen an uptick in complaints from gay and transgendered prisoners
reporting that they are not classified adequately and are often housed with prisoners who repeatedly
physically and sexually assault them.
Below is information on one of the prisoners we recently discussed. I have tried to keep this email as
brief as possible, The narrative is based on my interviews with the prisoner but does not include all the
information he communicated to me. The prisoner's name is Jonathon "Michael" Moore, DOB:
. . _
' SSN#:.
I, openly gay, white male, approximately 5'3". He goes by the name
"Michael" and hereinafter will be referred to as Michael.
Michael was arrested for a violation of La RS 40:1033, Prohibited Drug Paraphernalia. and La RS 14:63.
Criminal Trespass. After a first appearance hearing on February 11,2009, he was held in custody only
for the violation La RS 40:1033, as the Court found no probable cause as to La RS 14:63. Michael was
formally charged with a violation of La RS 40:1033 within the limitations prescribed by La Code of
Criminal Procedure Art. 701. Apparently he was never 10rmally charged with a violation of La RS 14:63.
On April 1,2009, he pled guilty to La RS 40:1033, receiving a sentence of credit for time served. For
unknown reasons, he was held in custody untit April 7, 2009, when he was released midday.
Michael reports that when he was first booked he told a female staff member at central lock-up that he
was a homosexual and he asked if they OPCSO still separated homosexuals from the general
population. She told him that they did not.
After spending some time at HOD. he was moved with a group of prisoners to the recently reopened Old
Parish Prison, His complaints to our office regarding physical and sexual abuse stem from hiS time at Old
Parish Prison, He was housed at Old Parish Prison. C-3, Sussex on Left. Micllael reports t1lat he was
housed on a tier where he remembers only two other prisoners having orange wristbands (which should
reflect that the prisoner is medium risk). Michael remembers the rest of the roughly 56 prisoners having
red wrist bands (which should reflect that the prisoner is high risk because they have what the prison has
classified as "serious charges") and he believes the majority were violent offenders. He complained that
staff would rarely enter the tier other Ulan for the morning and afternoon count and would normally Sit at a
desk at the end of the tier's hallway, behind a closed door.
During his stay at Old Parish Prison he was repeatedly hit by other prisoners and had prisoners waive
tlleir penises in his face. Michael did not file grievances out of fear of retaliation by other prisoners. The
culmination of abuse occurred on Monday, April 6, 2009, when he was severely beaten by two tier reps,
an Unknown Tier Rep (approximately 6'1 ," long dreadlocks, African-American with a caramel complexion,
muscular) and Donald "Bummy" Myles, (mid-twenties, African-American with a short fade. approximately
5'10," weighing roughly 180 Ibs), That afternoon they beat him in front of a group of prisoners after
dragging him down a hallway and violently throwing him against a wall. They eventually ripped open
Michael's jumper, exposed Michael's back and buttocks, and laughed while fondling his buttocks.
Michael fled to his cell and they followed, The Unknown Tier Rep placed a blanket over the cell doorway.
Donald Myles then pinned Michael to the wall, repeatedly punching him in the ribs while rubbing his erect
penis against Michael's buttocks. Eventually Donald Miles stopped, and the back of Michael's jumper
was damp. Michael is not sure if Donald Miles ejaculated. The Unknown Tier Rep reentered the cell with
another prisoner named Charles Andrews. Charles Andrews stuck his fingers in Michael's mouth to pry it
open as he attempted to put his exposed penis in Michael's mouth. Donald Myles continued to punch
Michael in the ribs while this occurred, Apparently there was some commotion outside the cell about a

Page 2 of J

guard coming. Everyone the three men left the cell. Michael then looked up and saw a deputy (Michael believes
11is name was Preston) standing at the doorway. Preston called everyone to the day room for roll call, but Michael
stayed 310n8 in Ilis cell. Roll call normally occurs at 7pm.
Later. as the cell doors were closing, Michael·slipped out to the central hallway and walked up to the deputy
IMicllael believes IllS name was Preston) who was in the hallway outside the day room. Michael told the deputy
that 118 couldn't be in that section of the prison. The deputy asked why, and Michael told him he couldn't say why
because t11efC were others present, including the Unknown Tier Rep. The deputy told Michael to return to his cell.
Approximately t1l1fty minutes later Michael's cell door opened and the deputy removed him from the cell. The
deputy asl<ed him what happened. Then they walked downstairs together, Micllael told him the above, and they
entered a rOOm where "rank" was present. The rank (otder, huskier white man) asked him why Michael didn't say
anything before, but before he could tell rank anything, rank ordered the he be placed in A-t.
The next day, Michael noticed he was bruised and still in pain. He asked a different deputy to see a nurse. The
deputy (Micllael t11inks his name was Hamilton) asked why and Michael showed him his badly bruised arm. The
deputy led Michael to an office near the control tower. The deputy talked to the ranking officers present. One
ranking officer (Michael describes him as shorter male, African-American), asked Michael his charges and
Micllael told him he should have been released after his court date. After the ranking officer used his computer to
apparently look-up Michael, he told the deputy to take Michael back to his cell.
Rougilly an Ilour later Micllael was rolled out, not told why and not given any papE\\'work. H~r41lled out.t~e
afternoon of Tuesday, April 7, 2009.

' ....

One Wednesday, April 8, 2009, he went into NO/AIDS. He saw Dr. John Nusser, MD WllO recommended that
Micllael contact the ACLU. The doctor took notes, recommended X-rays and prescribed medication. Michael's
medical records are held by NO/AIDS.
Tile following day Ile emailed our office using his therapist's computer. Her name is Stephanie Nassrah, MSW,
Iler number IS 504-821-2601, Michael can be reached via email at
n02nV4nOw(iuy" or at his therapist's office. Michael normally returns my calls witllin a day.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can clarify anything or provide additional information.
Barry Gerharz


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