Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition Blocks Jail Entrance - Calls For Urgent Action in Response to Jail Conditions

From a press release from the Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition: 

Orleans Parish Prison Reform Coalition (OPPRC) members and supporters gathered today at 10:00am at the intersection of Tulane & Broad, and marched to the Intake & Processing Center at 730 S. Dupre St. where they partially blocked the jail entrance and called for a moratorium on admissions to a facility where conditions continue to be inhuman, unconstitutional and life-threatening. 

OPPRC suggests that the City needs to find other alternatives rather than continuing to house people in an “unsafe and violent jail” and called for urgent steps to be taken in an open letter to Susan Guidry and other members of the City Council's Criminal Justice Committee released on March 13, 2014. In the letter, OPPRC asserts that “We cannot simply continue to expose individuals who are in custody or individuals who work at the jail to these extremely dangerous conditions.” Within ten days of the letter's release another individual died in custody following a fight between prisoners in the jail's temporary housing unit known as "the tents."

OPPRC claims that the consent decree has not resulted in significant improvement in the conditions in the jail, citing the first report of the federal monitoring team which found that inmates in OPP “continue to experience severe problems with shoddy medical care, violence and a general attitude of apathy toward their grievances.”

OPPRC also is renewing its call for Mayor Landrieu to declare the jail to be in a state of emergency, thus triggering the release of persons held for minor, non-violent crimes.  “Many of the people currently in OPP pose zero risk to public safety- as evidenced by the fact that they would simply be released under hurricane evacuation conditions. Instead, they are held in OPP, on taxpayer’s money, where they are in danger of being beaten, raped, stabbed, or possibly even killed in the jail,” said Yvette Thierry. “We cannot in good conscience hold people subject to this dehumanizing violence. The City is responsible for their safety. The Mayor has the responsibility to stop this bloodshed.”

There have been 25 in-custody deaths in OPP since 2009, and up to 73 inmates a month are sent to the emergency room.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Workers Protest Dangerous Conditions at Iberville Redevlopment

Today, dozens of people joined in support of workers at the construction site at the former Iberville public housing development. Two workers from the site spoke of unsafe conditions and low pay at the site. 

From The New Orleans Workers Center for Racial Justice:

Durr Construction has not cared enough about New Orleans to ensure that Choice Neighborhood Initiative workers have the proper equipment to decontaminate themselves from lead, asbestos, and mold before getting on public transit and returning to their families. Workers are not even paid a living wage.

Two brave Choice Neighborhood Initiative workers stood up to report serious heath and safety hazards to the community and to the City of New Orleans.  Upon delivering the details of their complaint to the community a delegation of community members marched to Aimee Quirk’s office to deliver a detailed complaint to Aimee Quirk, the Director of the Office of Economic Development for the City of New Orleans.  She accepted the letter in person but still has not responded to the explicit request to schedule a meeting with the worker complainants, Stand with Dignity, and Durr Heavy Construction to resolve health and safety violations and full and fair employment standards.  

Patrick and Junior are standing up to demand a better deal for New Orleans- they are putting their family’s livelihood on the line to make sure that New Orleans has better opportunities. They need your help to win a better deal for New Orleans, and a better deal for our community’s safety.

"I am a walking hazard - they don't even have a decontamination area to remove the asbestos, lead, and mold I encounter every day. My health and the health of my family is worth far more than $12.75 per hour." - Patrick Delaney, Choice Neighborhood asbestos abatement worker.

"It took me over a year to get this job but the only protection that they provide me is a paper dust mask - even though I encounter mold, lead and asbestos on a daily basis. And for all of these risks I am only paid $10 per hour - and so far only work 32 hours per week - $1,000 per month barely keeps the lights on." - Reginald Junior, Choice Neighborhood demolition worker.