Longtime independent police observer and criminal justice reformer Susan Hutson announced on 11. Hutson will be the first African American woman to run the city’s prison – in fact, the first female black sheriff in Louisiana history.
Hutson, who served as an independent police observer with the New Orleans Police Department, survived a primary that nearly re-elected Gusman, with a 48 percent performance. But she persisted in the general to beat the 17-year-old incumbent after running a campaign that focused on community engagement, the safety of inmates and guards, and transparency in Orleans Parish Prison. All of this, she notes, was sorely lacking in the downtown prison complex under Gusman’s leadership and despite an ongoing federal approval decree.
Hutson took some time to speak to him from a weekend holiday event The nation about their goals and priorities. She says she will focus on what OPP can do for inmates in her custody, “how to look after them,” as well as training and supporting her deputy and prison guards staff – and most importantly, helping the Community to achieve “right to ship” of a prison system that is currently under federal approval decree due to a history of rampant unconstitutionality.
“Pretty much every aspect of this prison is not working properly,” says Hutson, promising to conduct a baseline audit to see how things can be fixed – “be it the civilian side, the paid details system, the prison itself, the mental health services “Says Hutson. “The amount of money going to jail” hasn’t changed the fact that “people aren’t getting the services they need”.
Some of the issues are fundamental issues like lack of toilet paper for inmates or that some inmates were unclothed, says Hutson, who plans to reevaluate staff and employment in the prison with an AmeriCorps program in Detroit in view that will help future ones To train prison guards in a safe manner.
Hutson was elected to Katrina after a long string of attempted prison reforms and upgrades – including efforts to restore justice programs, reform the classification of inmates, a new, cutting-edge FEMA-funded prison, and other initiatives. But the prison, overseen by the Orléans Parish Sheriff’s Office (OPSO), has a way to go before it gets out of federal oversight.
Hutson makes headlines for her victory – along with New York City’s new police superintendent, Keechant Sewell, another first for a Black Woman – but it’s also worth noting that another criminal justice reformer, Simone Levine, announced last week that she was leaving the watchdog group Guard Nola Become Prosecutor and Supervisor at Orleans Parish Prosecutor’s Office.