Legislation adopted by the Council today will DECREASE, not increase, jail population
NEW ORLEANS - Councilmember Jay H. Banks has released the following statement addressing public concerns surrounding Zoning Docket No. 105/19, which was approved during today's regular Council meeting:
"As with all contentious zoning issues, we knew that we had to work toward the middle ground and connect a compromise that would address the needs and concerns of all the parties involved.
To be clear, this legislation does not address the actual Phase III building nor any proposed or possible retrofit; those matters were not before us, nor could we legislate those issues within this zoning docket.
Our office has been working diligently and meeting with many advocates, organizations, private citizens and received a volume of calls and emails expressing numerous concerns on a myriad of prison reform issues that could be addressed with modifications to the physical space. The major central theme expressed was to say no to prison expansion.
This compromise provides that the Sheriff can provide the space required to house inmates with mental health issues but does not allow for the number of inmates to increase. By reducing the permitted prison population from 1438 beds to 1250 inmates, this compromise brings us closer to the goal of the MacArthur grant: 998 inmates by the end of 2020.
It also ensures that the Orleans Justice Center's Temporary Detention Center can dedicate space and provide a safe environment for the men and women who cannot be placed within the jails' regular population. While this doesn't require a retrofit, it doesn't preclude it. This allows the City to continue planning for the humane, constitutionally-appropriate permanent housing of inmates with acute and sub-acute mental health conditions."
Jenna D. Burke, Director of Land Use
Office of District "B" Councilmember Jay H. Banks