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Sheriff's office says protest at Justice Center ended after 'action'

The sheriff’s office said the “operation” came after inmates had triggered the sprinkler system and began to flood the area.

NEW ORLEANS — The Orleans Parish Sheriff’s Office says the protest at the Justice Center has come to an end after what it called a “joint operation” with the Louisiana Department of Corrections.

The information provided by the sheriff’s office did not elaborate on what measures were used to end what had been a nonviolent protest that had seen several inmates barricade themselves inside of a pod outside of their cells for more than 48 hours.

The sheriff’s office said the “operation” came after inmates had triggered the sprinkler system and began to flood the area.

The office said that six of the inmates were arrested and removed immediately and were to be taken to a Department of Corrections maximum security facility.

The sheriff’s office also said that all of the inmates involved were screened for injuries and that an update would be provided on given on the extent of any injuries to the people inside.

Earlier Sunday several of the men in that pod could be heard yelling for help to people outside and a few were holding signs asking for help. 

A crowd of about two dozen people rallied at the Justice Center in support of the men inside. 

Credit: Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office
In an image provided by the Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office, inmates said to be barricaded in a pod in the Justice Center can allegedly be seen.

Hutson said that the residents of that pod had refused to return to their cells. She said that food has been offered to the inmates three times Saturday – at 6 a.m., noon and 5:30 p.m. and so far twice on Sunday – at 6 a.m. and noon. She also said that attempts to bring medication to the prisoners has been refused.

She said that access to water has been denied after the inmates mixed soap and water and placed the mixture near the entryways of the pod.

The hand-written letter that Hutson says is from the inmates in the barricaded pod, said the following.

(The full letter can be seen below)

“We the people are tired of being treated in an inhumane manner,” the letter began.

The letter claims that they are continuously having their due process and civil rights violated daily.

The letter claims that inmates are in their cells for 20 hours a day with a tiered manner of allowing them out of their cells. One group is said to be let out from 8 a.m. until noon with the other group being let out from noon until 4 p.m.

Article continues under photo of letter

Credit: Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office
Credit: Orleans Parish Sheriff's Office

Among their demands are:

  • Washer, dryer and basketball replacements
  • 4 books a month and 20 photos a month limit lifted
  • Mail to be delivered and, if refused, a reason given
  • 30-minute visits allowed
  • Toiletries given out on time
  • Proper medication and sick calls treated seriously
  • More recreation time allowed
  • No denial of reading material
  • To be taken to court on court-appointed date
  • A second TV
  • Removal of tinting for verification when they are communicating with the warden or sheriff

Hutson said that she is going to contiue to try to deescalate the situation peacefully and that the sheriff’s office is in negotiations with the residents to try to resolve the matter peacefully.

She said that the pod where the inmates say they’ve faced restrictions is one where the new tiered method of leaving cells was implemented after there were 3 stabbings in that pod in a five-day period recently.

Hutson said the other 23 pods at the Justice Center are operating normally.

“I promised our community that we would reduce the use of force inside OJC and I intend to honor that promise. I also promised the staff of OJC, every deputy who puts their life on the line, that I would keep their safety and the safety of every resident – our community’s family and our neighbors – as my top priority, and I will do that too,” she said.

Hutson promised regular updates on the situation.

RELATED: Orleans inmates remain barricaded, asking for help

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