On March 14, the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Committee (OPPRC) and other local groups filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Marlin Gusman, Darnley R. Hodge, Jared E. Munster, and the city of New Orleans, alleging the illegal operation of the Temporary Detention Center (TDC) capable of housing up to 800 additional inmates adjacent to Orleans Parish Prison.
A city council ordinance (no. 24,282) passed in 2011 mandated the demolition or decommissioning of the TDC, a temporary jail building constructed after Hurricane Katrina, no later than 18 months after the construction of a new jail. The new Orleans Parish Prison facility became operational in October 2015, but when the ordinance’s 18 month deadline passed in April 2017, the TDC never closed. According to OPPRC’s lawsuit, New Orleans’ director of Safety and Permits issued a Temporary Occupancy Certificate to the Sheriff’s Office for the TDC, and the sheriff continued housing inmates in the facility.
“They didn’t go through the proper zoning process; there was no meeting with the city council,” says Sade Dumas, executive director of the OPPLRC. “So, we see this as an illegal jail expansion, that currently holds more than 200 inmates.”