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Mike Perlstein / Eyewitness News
Email: mperlstein@wwltv.com | Twitter: @mikeperlstein

After airing video Thursday that appears to show Orleans Parish Prison inmates using drugs, along with a response from Sheriff Marlin Gusman, some officials have taken issue with the sheriff's stance on the matter.

'It indicates that the sheriff, for whatever reason has not gained control over his facility,' said ACLU director Marjorie Esman.

Esman said she was not surprised by the cell phone video obtained by Eyewitness News that appears to show inmates using drugs in a holding cell.

But Esman said she was surprised to see that in Sheriff Marlin Gusman's response he blamed police for not searching suspects before bringing them in, as well as previous Sheriff Charles Foti for getting strip searches banned.

'Somehow the sheriff seems to think that he can blame everybody else for the fact that he cannot maintain control over his own facility. At some point, he's going to have to step up and accept responsibility,' Esman.

In his statement, Gusman cites his strip search policy, but the statement does not appear to match the actual guidelines that were established pursuant to a lawsuit 14 years ago.

In fact, the policy that came out of the lawsuit does allow strip searches, restricting them only for minor offenders like traffic violators. And even then it allows the searches if there is reason for suspicion.

'He could have had strip searches conducted,' Esman. 'So, yes, his statement is just flat out not true.'

But Esman questions if a strip search would have even applied in this case, especially with wide open drug use recorded on a cell phone, which is itself contraband.

'We don't know that these drugs and cell phone and all of that were, in fact, concealed in body cavities. We don't know that,' Esman.

'How come no one's supervising to see what's going on to confiscate the contraband? Where are they? They're nowhere. They are not doing their job.'

Eyewitness News reached out to the sheriff's office for a clarification of his statement, and we are still waiting for a response.

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