Judge: House inmates with health issues in separate building
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal magistrate judge is recommending that New Orleans be ordered to continue plans for a jail building to house inmates with serious medical or mental health issues.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael North’s issued a report Monday that goes to U.S. District Judge Lance Africk, who oversees the jail’s compliance with court-ordered reforms.
The New Orleans jail has been plagued by violence, suicide and overdoses.
The Times-Picayune’The New Orleans Advocate reports that city officials wanted the court to let them abandon plans for a separate building due to cost concerns.
They said expanding the jail would force them to slash funds from public safety services. They also argued that the “special population” inmates could be housed in renovated wings of the main jail.
North’s report rebuked the city, saying city officials and lawyers drummed up public pressure on the court. “In any event, let it be clear that the Court does not respond to public shaming or political pressure,” he said. “And if the administration is spoiling for a fight with the federal court, as it appears it may be, they won’t get it because we don’t fight.”
Africk can accept, modify or reject North’s recommendations. The city has a right to object to them.