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"This has been going on for years" - experts say trouble at justice center reached breaking point

It comes after a 48-hour protest, which resulted in inmates barricading themselves inside.

NEW ORLEANS — The protest started Friday, escalating on Sunday after inmates barricaded themselves inside their pod in the Orleans Justice Center.

Dawanna James's son was one of the 44 inmates in that high-security pod.

"They were letting us know they had nothing to eat, drink, feces everywhere," she said. "I understand they are prisoners, they are not supposed to get luxury, but they are human."

"Residents were able to tear their bed sheets and fashion nooses which were then tied to door handles and railings to prevent entry from the outside. Additionally, residents blocked entryways with furniture. They also combined water and soap and placed the mixture on the floors to make any attempted entry dangerous for OPSO staff," The Orleans Parish Sheriff's office said.

RELATED: Jail standoff was non-violent, then Sunday, that changed, says sheriff

Inmates wrote a letter to Sheriff Susan Hutson.

"We the people are tired of being treated in an inhumane manner," the letter said.

They also made a list of demands, including but not limited to, the four books a month and 20 photos a month limit being lifted, requesting a second TV and being taken to court on the court-appointed date.

Professor Reggie Parquet from Tulane University says protests and riots happen for three reasons - quality of food and living conditions and human rights violations.

"Something as simple as a TV, which allows them some access to the outside world… I would say it's worth that as opposed to what developed this last week," Parquet said.

"It isn't something that happened overnight, it was a build-up of things," Parquet said.

He said the jail staff missed the warning signs. 

"This has been going on for years, all the way back to Sheriff Foti," Parquet said.

RELATED: 4 stabbed in 8 days at New Orleans jail

Sade Dumas, the former Executive Director of the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition agrees, saying the pressure in that jail bubble finally popped.

"They were exercising their constitutional rights, what we saw yesterday was an escalation," she said. 

She went on to say, "We have seen 17 years of human rights violations and almost 70 deaths."

Sheriff Hutson told before City Council that the office is doing everything they can to secure the jail. 

"Making sure there's supervision 24/7 seven days a week, to deal with these issues. We have brought done the numbers, we were over 1000 at one point and we brought down the numbers because we cannot move people... and we are hiring and recruiting as fast as we can," Hutson said.

The sheriff's office says charges will be filed for those involved. Six inmates have already been removed and taken to a Department of Corrections maximum security facility.

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