A federal court hearing began Monday into conditions at the Orleans Parish Prison complex. A graphic video seen in court Tuesday showed inmates using drugs, showing off guns, and gambling in the jail.
So far in the hearings regarding the federal consent decree over the OPP, prisoners have given testimony alleging everything from sexual assault and beatings to being hog-tied and doused with urine.
The video is part of evidence of gross mismanagement of OPP. In the video, a prisoner cooks crack cocaine, fills a syringe and shoots it. In the background, someone yells, “This is Orleans Parish Prison Gone Wild!"
The video shows a crowded jail cell of shirtless inmates carrying on as if at party, one prisoner smokes a joint. Then the camera pans to a handful of pills: Vicodin, Percocet, and others. Even an in-cell cooler containing Budweiser is shown.
One inmate says that everything is for sale at OPP, including crack, heroin, meth and pills.
A grand jury probe in the Sheriff’s office uncovered the video and two others just days ago inside a safe in Sheriff Marlin Gusman’s office. Gusman could be called to the stand today.
At the center of a separate federal criminal corruption case, Gusman is accused of taking gifts and bribes in exchange for Sheriff’s office contracts.
The House of Detention on Gravier Street was closed in 2012. The proposed federal decree highlights 12 areas of reform that OPP must meet in order to reopen. Some of the areas include: protection from harm from physical and sexual assaults, limited English proficiency services, mental health care, medical care,a nd fire and environmental safety.
While Gusman agreed to go along with the federal consent decree, he denies the claim that OPP conditions were unconstitutionally brutal and deficient.
New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landreiu says the city won’t hand Gusman “a blank check” to make the federally mandated reforms to the prison.
In another video taken from Gusman’s office, a man travels Bourbon Street bragging to people about escaping jail. He claims he returned to OPP to document the prison on tape.
Sound has been removed from the video posted due to obscene language.