Nagin’s criminal justice committee announced with great fanfare their plans to “fix” the criminal justice system at Gallier Hall today. Like most New Orleans civic meetings, there was much mutual congratulations and adoration, but little was said.
The plan: better coordination, fixing damaged infrastructure, more jails.
One of the things that would be funny if it wasn’t so horrible is that the committee is planning on fixing the enormous backlog of people waiting endlessly in foul conditions for a trial by asking for pro-bono legal help from local lawyers, instead of actually finding the money to hire some.
Hear the press conference
And the Q and A session
It’s always funny for me to watch Nagin’s face when the person in front of the microphone is lying, particularly when it is someone he appointed. However, the high point of the day was the opportunity to ask Marlin Gusman what he was doing about the filthy and inhumane conditions at OPP. His answer: more space in more jails.
Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman interview
I also got to speak with Richard Ieyoub, former state attorney general and the spokesperson for the committee, and ask him why we were building more jails when clearly they aren’t working. His answer was that he is not a sociologist, but that in the meantime we need more cells in more jails.
Former state attorney general Richard Ieyoub interview
Seung Hong, formerly of Safe Streets/Strong Communities and Barry Gerharz wrote in an article this spring that Louisiana has more people in jail per capita than any other large city in the nation.
You know, when I as an individual keep doing the same thing that has been proven over and over again not to work, I am either crazy or stupid. But when Ray Nagin, Marlin Gusman, Richard Ieyoub, Kathleen Blanco and Oliver Thomas etc. do it, it is public policy. If putting people in prison stopped violent crime, then why did we have 23 murders in July?
I also got an opportunity to talk to Norris Henderson of Safe Streets, who is almost as hard to get a hold of as the mayor. I had the funny feeling that he was one of the only sane people in the room.
Norris Henderson, Safe Streets interview