New video captured inside OPP sparks controversy

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 14, 2014 at 5:15 PM

Updated Monday, Jul 14 at 10:40 PM

Bill Capo / Eyewitness News
Email: bcapo@wwltv.com | Twitter: @billcapo

NEW ORLEANS --  New video inside Orleans Parish Prison comes from the team monitoring the federal consent decree designed to improve conditions inside the jail.

The video was shot during a surprise inspection June 14 in the facility where inmates with mental problems are housed.

Consent Decree Monitor Susan McCampbell took the video, but did not want to be interviewed about it.

"We're sorry," McCampbell said. "We can't. The court order keeps us from speaking."

But in court, she called the conditions inside Templeman 5 appalling. She photographed filth, broken windows and graffiti on the walls.

McCampbell said there was mold in the shower rooms and the smell of sewer gas. Some inmates rubbed soap on windows to keep guards from watching them.

McCampbell said their inmates were sleeping on cell floors. Some areas were flooded, and she said she saw one inmate still locked inside a flooded cell.

McCampbell testified the section for female inmates with mental health problems was equally dirty, with a toothpaste tube rigged to operate one of the shower heads.

Sheriff Marlin Gusman's attorney said the female inmates have now been moved to another part of the prison that was refurbished.

Parish prison leaders would not comment outside of court, but inside described the plan to move male inmates with mental health problems out of New Orleans to the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center in St. Gabriel, where conditions were described as much better.

But a city attorney worried the sheriff's budget would expect the city to pay over $400 a day per inmate, which he said is more expensive than a suite at the Windsor Court.

This hearing only dealt with temporary solutions to help inmates with mental health problems. All sides must still work out details on a long-term solution.

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