City Council to Hear Jail Expansion Proposal

On May 11th, at 10 AM the Criminal Justice Committee of City Council is scheduled to hear a presentation about the proposed jail expansion. Let's pack the house and let them know New Orleans does NOT need more jail cells! Check out Facebook.com/OPPReform for details, as City Council meeting dates often change.

Click HERE to download "Debunking the Jail Expansion in New Orleans" for more information and talking points!

Can't make the meeting? Call your City Council representative to let them know you OPPOSE more jail cells! See below:

Call Script

Below is a sample call script you may use when contacting city council.

Hi, my name is __________, and I’m a resident and voter in District______. I’m calling to urge you to say NO the proposed jail expansion, and YES to the retrofit option. New Orleans has the ability to adequately care for people in the jail without increasing the number jail cells—an option that you yourself have supported in the past. Instead of investing in the infrastructure of mass incarceration, I urge you to spend time and resources investing in what will truly keep my community safe—healthcare, affordable housing, transportation, and jobs. Please reject the jail expansion proposal and put the retrofit back on the table in order to keep our communities safe, healthy, and whole. During this election year I will be watching this issue closely.

City Council Contact

If you do not know who your City Council representative is, call the front desk at (504) 658-1000 and ask!

Stacy Head

Councilmember-At-Large

(504) 658-1060

Jason Williams

Councilmember-At-Large

(504) 658-1070

Susan Guidry

District A

(504) 658-1010

LaToya Cantrell

District B

(504) 658-1020

Nadine Ramsey

District C

(504) 658-1030

Jared Brossett

District D

(504) 658-1040

James Gray

District E

(504) 658-1050

Municipal Bail Ordinance Hearing!

It's finally happening! The Municipal Bail Reform Ordinance that OPPRC has been advocating for for over a year will finally be heard by City Council!  The ordinance would eliminate financial bail and pre-trial detention for most municipal charges, and reduce the number of people unnecessarily incarcerated at OPP. The hearing will take place on Monday, 9/19 at 11:30 AM in Council Chambers (1300 Perdido Street). We will be having a rally and press conference at 11 AM.  (Please note the time change!) Wear orange to show your opposition to locking up the poor!

If you can't attend the hearing, please sign this declaration of support, and contact your City Council Representative (contact information below). Below is a sample call/email script:

Hello, my name is ________ and I am a resident and voter in District __________.

I am [calling/writing] in support of OPPRC’s municipal bail reform ordinance. I am concerned that too many people charged with low-level offenses are sitting in jail awaiting trial because they are too poor to pay their bond. Some will never be charged with a crime, some charged will not be convicted, and of those convicted, many will not be sentenced to incarceration.

 [If you have a personal story you’d like to share, please share it here.]

In addition to increasing the number of people in jail, and in addition to the tax-payer costs associated with incarcerating our community members, pre-trial detention has serious, destabilizing effects on people’s lives. People can lose their jobs, their homes, and their kids, while they await trial for a crime they are, by law, innocent of until they are proven guilty. OPPRC’s ordinance is an important first step in de-criminalizing the poor and making our community safer, and I hope you support it.

City Council Contact

At large:  Stacy Head: 658-1060; shead@nola.gov & Jason Williams: 658-1070 jasonwilliams@nola.gov

District A: Susan Guidry (Chair of Criminal Justice subcommittee): 658-1010 sgguidry@nola.gov

District B: LaToya Cantrell:  658-1020 lcantrell@nola.gov

District C: Nadine Ramsey: 658-1030 districtc@nola.gov

District D: Jared C. Brossett: 658-1040 jcbrossett@nola.gov

District E: James Gray: 658-1050 jagray@nola.gov

Take Back the Land: A Call To Action Community Forum July 7, 2014

The Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC) will hold a community forum on Tuesday July 8 at 6:30 pm at the First Unitarian Universalist Church at 2903 Jefferson (@ Claiborne). The forum will focus on discussion of the best use for a lot of land at 2900 Perdido. The land is owned by the city, and located between the kitchen and the new 1438-bed jail facility being built by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office.

 

After a brief presentation about the lot, OPPRC has invited over a dozen community groups to share their dreams and visions of how the site could be used in a way that would help make New Orleans a safer, healthier, and more just community. Open mic time will also be included for attendees at the forum to share their own ideas or comment on what has been shared by others.

Take Back The Land OPPRC July 2014

Orleans Parish Sheriff Marlin Gusman has long held plans to build a so-called Phase III building on the 2900 Perdido site; these plans for additional inmate beds were documented in recent court filings. This is despite a 2011 City Ordinance advocated for by OPPRC and other community groups that limited the size of the new jail being constructed to 1438 beds and required that the new facility be built to accommodate the needs of all inmates. The Ordinance was passed unanimously by City Council. All City Councilpersons have been invited to attend Tuesday's forum and some have already confirmed their participation.

 

OPPRC has argued for a cap on prison beds because prisons do not make a community safe but are instead themselves criminogenic, causally linked to violence and crime on New Orleans streets. If there are more beds to fill, the police and Sheriff will fill them and continue the trend of incarcerating and imprisoning mass amounts of people, perpetuating a country-wide epidemic, of which New Orleans is the epicenter. OPPRC argues that instead of building more beds, money that the city saves through reducing the size of the jail should be used for funding employment creation and job training programs, libraries, community centers, mental health and substance abuse services, after school programs, youth and recreation programs, cultural activities and economic development opportunities, etc. all things proven to be more effective in creating safer communities and families. Tuesday's forum will provide an opportunity for the community to dream about these alternatives to more prison beds.

 

Transportation and childcare will be available for attendees of Tuesday night's forum. For more information, contact oppreform@gmail.com or call 504-264-2189.


You can RSVP via facebook here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/592985364149635/

 

Call for Urgent Action in response to Dangerous Conditions at OPP

ACTION ALERT ** ACTION ALERT ** ACTION ALERT **

We invite all those troubled by the horribly dangerous conditions at Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) to join with OPPRC this Wednesday March 26 at 10 am at the intersection of Tulane & Broad.

When? Wednesday March 26 at 10 am

Where? Tulane & Broad

Why?

  • Orleans Parish Prison (OPP) continues to be an inhumane, unconstitutional and life threatening environment for people who find themselves housed there, as well as for those who work there. The first report of the federal monitoring team found that inmates in OPP “continue to experience severe problems with shoddy medical care, violence and a general attitude of apathy toward their grievances.” There have been 25 in-custody deaths in OPP since 2009. Up to 73 inmates a month are sent to the emergency room due to conditions at the jail, including for lacerations/punctures, fractures/dislocations, trauma, mental health crises, broken bones and sexual assault.
  • OPPRC released an open letter to the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee over a week ago calling for the Committee to hold a hearing to determine steps which the city can take to immediately address the current crisis in OPP. We have yet to receive any response to our letter. You can see the full open letter here.
  • Yet another individual has died in custody since the release of OPPRC's open letter, highlighting that an urgent response is a life and death matter! The death occurred following a fight between prisoners in the jail's temporary housing unit known as "the tents," and it has yet to be revealed whether there were any deputies in the tent at the time of the fight.

What? Join with OPPRC and others in New Orleans to demand urgent action to address the human rights crisis at OPP. Wear red or black if you are able

For more information, contact: Norris Henderson @ 504.453.4819.

OPPRC Action Alert -- Support the 1438 cap!

Raising our voices (again) in support of the 1438 cap on beds at OPP

Recent media reports and court filings reveal that the Sheriff and Mayor are coming together to advocate that the City change or ignore the 2011 City ordinance that capped the number of beds in Orleans Parish Prison to 1438. Hundreds of community members  packed the City Council chambers, signed petitions, called their councilpersons, etc. in order to get the 1438 cap included in the ordinance approving construction of a new jail building.  Now, we we need to call on you again to stand with us in making sure that our voices are not blatantly ignored.

The city does not need to incarcerate more people to properly care for the people it does incarcerate. In fact, the opposite is the case. It is the responsibility of our Mayor and City Council to ensure a safe and humane jail facility is built without breaking the promises they made to cap the jail's size.

Please contact the Mayor, City Councilpersons, and both at-large Councilpersons to remind them of the importance of the beds being capped at 1438 and to let tell them know that you do not support amending the ordinance to increase the number of beds in the jail beyond that number. Here are phone numbers and emails for the City Councilpersons and the Mayor:

Note: If you aren't sure of your Council district, City Council maps are available here and your ward and precinct #'s are here

What are the advantages of limiting the number of jail beds in Orleans Parish Prison to no more than 1438?

 Currently, Orleans Parish is the national leader in jailing its people. We incarcerate more people per capita than any other city in the US. Even if New Orleans reaches a population of 400,000, the proposed cap of 1438 would still leave us at 43.8% more beds than the national average per capita jail population rate.

 People are being locked up unnecessarily. Many thousands of people who pose little or no public safety risk continue to be arrested and incarcerated for minor offenses, including an inability to pay court costs. Mass incarceration increases social problems including disenfranchisement and despair in formerly incarcerated persons, their families and their communities. Incarceration puts employment and housing at risk, thus resulting in instability and vulnerability. Communities of color are especially impacted by mass incarceration due to documented racial disparities in our prison system.

Mass incarceration diverts public funds from other uses that have been proven more effective at creating a safe community including mental health & drug rehab programs, job training, libraries, community centers, after school programs, youth and recreation programs, affordable housing, cultural activities and economic development opportunities. Every one-bed reduction in OPP saves the city approx $11,900 in operating expenses for the jail. Every dollar that it takes to operate the jail comes from taxpayers. Our high incarceration rate results in fewer breadwinners in our community, fewer tax dollars coming into our city, and greater need for services and support for the families and loved ones of people inside.

 Capping the beds at OPP will work in support of the reforms that are currently being implemented by various actors in the criminal justice system including the police, the district attorney's office, etc. Orleans Parish also needs to fully implement effective Pre-Trial Services & policies like using summons as an alternative to pretrial detention. Building more beds will only undermine these need reforms.

Together we can make sure that New Orleans will no longer be the incarceration capitol of the world!